Thursday, 1 October 2015

Cristiano Ronaldo scores 500th goal in Real Madrid's Champions League win

It was just Cristiano Ronaldo doing Cristiano Ronaldo things. For the 500th and 501st time in his career.

Score goals that is, of course. Because there's nothing Ronaldo does as well or as regularly as put points on the board. And in Real Madrid's 2-0 away win over 10-man Malmo in the Champions League on Wednesday, Ronaldo reached and then eclipsed the half-century mark for goals in his career.

He put Real ahead in the 29th minute with a typically clinical finish on a one-on-one breakaway.

And then he doubled the score just before the final whistle with a poke from close.
Orlando City could be set to target Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
Orlando City could be set to target Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
As of Wednesday, he has scored an astonishing 317 league goals – including six 31-plus seasons, the last five of which have come successively in an ongoing streak – as well as 40 goals in domestic cup competitions; 83 goals in European competition; six goals in various super cups and the Club World Cup; and 55 international goals for Portugal.

Oh, and his second goal against Malmo also tied Raul for Real's all-time club record of 323 goals. The difference, however, is that Raul needed 16 seasons to score his goals. Ronaldo has only just begun his seventh season in the Spanish capital, after spending a year with Sporting Lisbon and six with Manchester United.

Ronaldo is still only 30 years old and the end of his prime is not yet in sight, even if he has altered his playing style somewhat to accommodate his own aging. Which brings us back to the long-running debate over what his legacy will be, exactly.

Most seem to agree now that Lionel Messi is the better player overall. Ronaldo leads him in career goals – 501 to 478 – but is also two years older. But that doesn't mean that if Ronaldo isn't the best player of his generation he can't still be one of the greatest of all time. Even though he has been cast in some sort of villain role for his preening and boastful habits, opposite quiet hero Messi (never mind that the latter is the one in trouble with authorities for evading taxes on his staggering income), Ronaldo is doubtless among the very best to ever play the sport.

The trio of all-time greats is generally considered to be Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff and Pele. But the first two of those were never as prolific as Ronaldo and were on the downslide of their careers by the time they reached his age. Pele, whose greatness rests in part on the dubious claim that he scored 1,000 goals in his career, never played club soccer outside of the Western Hemisphere. And while South America's leagues were significantly stronger in his heyday than they are now, he was never truly tested on the highest level on a weekly basis.

Which is all to say that Ronaldo is very much in that discussion.

But if you needed these figures to be convinced of that, you probably haven't been paying attention over the last decade or so.
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