Real Betis 3-5 Real Madrid: Marco Asensio Nets Landmark Goal as Los Blancos Edge Eight-Goal Thriller

Real Madrid rounded off a high-scoring and successful week with a 5-3 away win over Real Betis on Sunday evening which truly portrayed the bipolar campaign the Spanish capital side are enduring this year. 

After Marco Asensio headed his side into the lead during the opening exchanges, Los Blancos’ defensive frailties were thrown into the spotlight once again, as Aissa Mandi squared things up before Nacho Fernandez bundled the ball into his own net just four minutes later. 

However, after the break, Sergio Ramos quickly brought his side level before Asensio netted the famous all-whites’ 6000th league goal with a delicious first-time finish, completing the 15-minute comeback. 

The clash looked all but a formality after Cristiano Ronaldo netted Real Madrid’s fourth of the evening shortly after the hour-mark, however, substitute Sergio Leon gave Betis a glimmer of hope going into the final five minutes of normal time after turning home from a tight angle. 

But, while pushing for the equaliser, a misplaced Cristian Tello pass allowed Karim Benzema to grab a much-needed goal and secure an equally important three points, extending the buffer over Sevilla in fourth place to six once again. 

Inside the highly charged, almost over spilling Estadio Benito Villamarin, both sides were afforded spells of expansive football during the opening exchanges, but it was the visitors who drew first blood on the 10-minute mark as Asensio nodded home from 12 yards.

The hosts’ lack of defensive action could certainly be called into question, as Cristiano Ronaldo was allowed to trot into the area before unleashing a stinging effort which was parried back into the path of the Spaniard by Beticos’ goalkeeper Antonio Adan, allowing the 22-year-old to direct his attempt into the corner of the net unopposed.

After finding themselves behind, Quique Setien’s men began to assert their style of play which has made them such an admirable outfit this term, and their spell of dominance almost proved fruitful shortly before the midway point of the first-half as Mandi latched onto Joaquin’s fizzed corner, but the defender could only flash his header wide.

As the first 45 ticked on, Real Betis maintained their grip on the contest, despite remaining behind on the scoreboard, and Joaquin, who has been a revelation in Seville so far this campaign, looked certain to pull his side level with a sweetly struck 25-yard free-kick, only for Los Blancos custodian Keylor Navas to produce, undoubtedly, one of his stops of the season and retain the capital club’s advantage.

However, shortly after the half-hour mark the Costa Rica international could do nothing to deny Mandi levelling things up, as the 26-year-old rose above Casemiro inside the six-yard box and latched on to yet another sensationally delivered cross from Joaquin before powering his header home sparking absolute bedlam behind the Real Madrid goal.

But, those images of supporters clambering over one another were nothing compared to that of four minutes later when Nacho turned the ball into his own net to give the hosts the lead.

Again, Joaquin catalysed the attack by finding young left-back Junior, who was enjoying only his second senior contest, in acres of space on the left-hand side before the 21-year-old burst into the area unchallenged and attempted to fire his shot across Navas.

The 31-year-old was able to get two hands to it, however, not for the first time this campaign, his parry was less than convincing, and the stop ended up arrowing into the path of Nacho, who could not react quick enough to evade deflecting the ball into his own unguarded goal and sending his side in a one down at the break. 

After a half-time filled with the buoyant Betis diehards in fine voice, the masses were subdued within just five minutes, as Ramos, who started his career just three miles away from the Estadio Benito Villamarin with bitter rivals Sevilla, powered a trademark headed effort which kissed the underside of the crossbar before nestling in the back of Adan’s net.

Whatever orders Zidane barked at his outfit during the break following their underwhelming opening 45 minutes certainly appeared to hold an impact, as shortly after his side drew level, Gareth Bale was smartly denied twice in quick succession after the Welshman was able to overcome the opposition’s high defensive line, but during the reigning Premier Division champions’ next attack, Asensio had no such issue.

Dani Carvajal utilised his raw pace and attacking guile on the right-hand side before cleverly pulling a low cross back into the direction of the breaking Spaniard, who dispatched his attempt first time to complete the stunning 15-minute turnaround as well as mark his side’s 6000th La Liga goal – the only club in history to reach that height.

However, while in the first-half Beticos rallied when faced with adversity, the second saw no such thing, as shortly after the hour-mark, Ronaldo doubled Real Madrid’s advantage.

The five-time Ballon d’Or-winner was again afforded too much space by the hosts’ defence, and after taking possession inside the area, switched play to his right foot before dispatching an attempt which carried too much venom for the hands of Adan.

However, with just five minutes remaining, the contest was blown wide open once again as Leon tucked home from a tight angle to reduce the hosts’ deficit to a single goal.

Junior, who had been hugely impressive despite his inexperience at the top level, burst down the left wing before driving a low ball across the face of goal, wrong-footing Navas and allowing the 29-year-old substitute to add an edge to the final moments.

But, while searching for the equaliser, Tello’s lackadaisical pass offered Lucas Vasquez the opportunity to enjoy some intricate play on the edge of the area with Benzema before the Frenchman eventually slotted his effort past Adan to wrap up all three points. 

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Barcelona Legend Xavi Slams Cristiano Ronaldo in Favour of Former Blaugrana Teammate Neymar

Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar came head to head this week in an exciting Champions League tie where ​Real Madrid left victorious. However, ex-Barcelona midfielder Xavi made a few comments following the match in regard to Cristiano’s ability in comparison to Neymar. 

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In a rather heated interview with So Foot, Xavi was quick to say that he believes that his former Brazilian teammate is now a better player than the five time Ballon d’Or winner. 

“I read many articles ​that said that Cristiano (Ronaldo) was still above Neymar. No, no, it’s unfair,” the former Spanish international mentioned. 

Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

Xavi, who now plays for Al Sadd in Qatar, played with Neymar for just two years before his departure but has backed up the Brazilian within this interview by questioning the ability of Ronaldo. 

Regarding the recent Champions League tie, Xavi mentioned: “What did Ronaldo do? He scored a penalty and a knee goal. But what about the dangerous situations created by Neymar? The problems that he caused Madrid? And the counter attacks that he launched.”.

Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

Now 33-years-old, Cristiano Ronaldo has struggled within La Liga, scoring 11 goals in 18 games. Although this is still a healthy return, it is nothing compared to what we expect of the Real Madrid star. 

In comparison, Neymar has scored 19 goals in 19 appearances for PSG this season in Ligue 1, demonstrating a clear difference in form between the Brazilian and the Portuguese. 

Nonetheless, the reverse fixture for this Champions League tie will certainly be interesting as the ​Parisians will travel to Madrid to fight for their place in the next round of the competition. 


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Zinedine Zidane Admits Pressure at Real Madrid Is ‘Extremely Tiring’ Amid Speculation Over Future

​Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has admitted the incessant speculation surrounding his future is “extremely tiring”.

The Frenchman remains under pressure with his side enduring a dismal La Liga campaign, although last week’s 3-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 provided some welcome relief.

Zidane, though, is fully aware of the expectation at the Bernabeu, and has set his sights on “getting to the end of the season”.

Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

“For me the most important thing is what I’m doing now, the day to day. I’m not looking further than that,” he said – quoted by ​the Daily Mail.

“I want to get to the end of the season. I’m only bothered about what’s at stake and I don’t want to talk about anything else.

“It’s extremely tiring, for sure, and all the more so at Real Madrid. Of course the time could come when a change is needed, but that’s the case for everyone, the players too.

“This profession can wear you out but here more than in other places.”

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After Wednesday night’s win over PSG, Real Madrid now turn their attention back to La Liga. Zidane’s side travel to Real Betis 17 points behind leaders Barcelona and looking to avoid a repeat of the 1-0 defeat suffered at the hands of Quique Setien’s side in September.

“We performed very well the other night and now we’ve got to focus on our bread and butter, which is LaLiga,” said Zidane.

“We haven’t had many days to rest up but that’s just the way it goes. We’re now just thinking about doing a good job tomorrow.

“Betis are a very good side and are very strong on their own patch. We know how tough it’s going to be but we’ve got our own weapons.”

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Philippe Coutinho Shares Harry Kane’s Potential Real Madrid Squad Number With Teammates

​Philippe Coutinho has reportedly told his Barcelona teammates the squad number Real Madrid would give Harry Kane, should he sign for the Spanish giants.

Kane has reportedly topped president Florentino Perez’s summer hit-list after his form in 2017 saw him score more goals than both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, and if Real get their way, Kane could be playing alongside Ronaldo next season.

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool - Premier League

According to Diario Gol (via the ​Express) Coutinho has been sharing the idea that Kane will receive the number ten shirt – currently occupied by former Spurs teammate Luka Modric – should he make the switch to the Bernabeu in the summer.

Even though Modric is under contract at Madrid until 2020, it’s believed Real are keen to award the striker the number ten shirt, as are Madrid’s sponsor Adidas who would be keen for the Spurs man to get the shirt in order to boost shirt sales.

Tottenham Hotspur FC Press Conference

In fact, the Express have also claimed the sports brand have even began planning marketing campaigns for when the 23-year-old signs for Madrid, although no contact between the two clubs have been made yet.

Kane has been on scintillating form this season, bagging his 100th Premier League goal during Tottenham’s recent 2-2 draw with Liverpool, and currently has 23 goals in 26 league appearances already this season.


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Tottenham will be hoping they can fend off any interest from Europe’s top clubs, however for now, they will be focused on their trip to Crystal Palace on Monday night as they look to close the gap on Chelsea – who currently occupy fourth place in the league table.

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Spanish Report Claims Ronaldo Is ‘Confident’ Florentino Perez Will Bring Harry Kane to Real Madrid

​Current Ballon d’Or holder Cristiano Ronaldo believes Florentino Perez will secure the signing of Harry Kane as the Real Madrid president always gets what he wants.

The Tottenham forward is enjoying yet another stellar season under Mauricio Pochettino, having scored an astonishing 23 goals in 26 Premier League appearances so far this season, and recently grabbed his 100th Premier League goal during Tottenham’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool.

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England fans will be hoping Kane can transfer his club form onto the international stage when England travel to Russia for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with many experts believing the 24-year-old can lead his country to World Cup glory.

Unfortunately for Tottenham fans, Kane’s outstanding form has gained recognition amongst Europe’s top clubs, and according to Spanish news outlet ​Don Balon, Ronaldo believes Kane is now at the top of president Perez’s hit-list and that the striker will join the European champions ahead of the 2018-19 season.

Real Madrid v Tottenham Hotspur - UEFA Champions League

Reports are suggesting Perez is set to make a lucrative offer to try and force Tottenham to sell, a deal which may include former Spur Gareth Bale heading the other way. Bale seems to have fallen out of favour at the Santiago Bernabeu, and may well be used as a bargaining chip in a deal to bring Kane to Madrid.

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Tottenham currently sit in fifth place in the Premier League, however have picked up seven points from their last three games against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. Kane will be looking to add to his Premier League goal tally when Tottenham travel to Crystal Palace on Monday night.

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Real Betis vs Real Madrid Preview: Classic Encounter, Key Battles, Team News & More

Real Madrid travel to Real Betis on Sunday afternoon, hoping they can lift themselves into third place and close the gap on FC Barcelona and Atlético Madrid.

Los Blancos go into the game off the back of a 5-2 victory over Real Sociedad last week, and will be looking to add to their momentum in order to put late pressure on FC Barcelona and Atlético Madrid at the top of the table.

Meanwhile, Real Betis have won their last two games and could move as high as sixth if they can pick up a surprise home victory this weekend.


Classic Encounter

Real Betis Balompie v Real Madrid CF - La Liga

Back in October 2016, Real Madrid recorded an emphatic 1-6 away victory at Betis, which pulled them level with Atlético Madrid at the top of the league table.

Raphael Varane got Real Madrid off to a fine start, opening the scoring with a powerful header after just five minutes. Karim Benzema made it two with a low, driven finish on the half-hour mark. Further goals Marcelo and Isco saw Real Madrid race into a 0-4 lead at half-time.

Cejudo pulled one back for Betis after the break, before Isco curled his second of the night into the top-right corner on 62 minutes and Cristiano Ronaldo joined the party with a close-range finish to secure a 1-6 win.


Key Battles

Lorenzo Morón and Ryad Boudebouz vs Sergio Ramos and Raphaël Varane

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid - Supercopa de Espana: 1st Leg

Real Betis striker Lorenzo Morón has only recently been promoted from the Real Betis B team, having scored 43 goals in 93 games for the second string side.
His senior career has started superbly, with 3 goals in 2 games for the La Liga outfit so far. These include a brace against Valencia and the winner at Deportivo La Coruña earlier this week.
The 24-year-old stands at 6ft 2in and, on current form, should be going into this clash with no fear. He is partnered up front by Algerian attacker Ryad Boudebouz.

Boudebouz’s tendency to drop deep could cause problems for Madrid’s back four. It is key for Los Blancos that they don’t concede goals, as goal difference could be key for them at the end of the season if they are to apply pressure on the top two.

However, experienced defender Sergio Ramos has only let a striker dribble past him on an average of 0.4 occasions per game, while this figure stands at just 0.2 for Raphaël Varane. These two defenders are well respected as one of the best partnerships in the game.
This battle between experienced defenders and fearless, in-form strikers will make for an entertaining battle on Sunday.

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Real Madrid look all set to play their strongest side for this game, with Jesus Vallejo their only absentee due to a hamstring injury.

Betis defender Zouhair Feddal is out with an achilles injury, while Joel Campbell and Antonio Sanabria are also not fit to feature. Both teams are coming into this game following La Liga victories and are expected to keep their lineups unchanged from those respective wins.


Potential Real Betis Starting Lineup: Adán; Martín, Mandi, Bartra, Amat, Adames; Joaquín, Guardado, Ruiz; Boudebouz, Morón.

Potential Real Madrid Starting Lineup: Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Vázquez, Modric, Kroos, Asensio; Benzema, Ronaldo.


Prediction

The sides have met in La Liga on 39 occasions, with 20 Madrid wins, 11 draws and 8 Betis wins on the head-to-head record.

However, Betis won the reverse fixture earlier this season. They were 1-0 victors back in September, thanks to a last-minute winner from Antonio Sanabria.
This match may be closer than some people think, however it will be difficult to look past the visitors for this one. Ronaldo, in particular, will be thriving after hitting his 100th Champions League goal recently.
Prediction: Real Betis 0-2 Real Madrid

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Key Midfield Man Doubtful for PSG Return Leg as Real Madrid Confirm Knee Ligament Issue

Real Madrid midfield ace Toni Kroos could miss his side’s Champions League last-16 return leg with Paris Saint-Germain after suffering knee ligament damage that will reportedly see him sidelined for at least two weeks.

The 28-year-old played the full 90 minutes as Los Blancos secured a two-goal buffer over the French capital side with a 3-1 win, courtesy of a Cristiano Ronaldo brace and a Marcelo volley.

The German international was imperative in Zinedine Zidane’s outfit entering half-time on level terms, after Adrien Rabiot had opened the scoring for the visitors. His quick thinking from a short corner offered Giovani Lo Celso no other option than to haul his opposition man down inside the area, resulting in the five-time Ballon d’Or winner slamming home for his first of the evening.

However, according to the Real Madrid’s official website, Kroos could well be set to miss the all-important return leg at the Parc des Princes on March 6, after suffering lateral ligament damage.

“Following tests carried out on Toni Kroos by the Sanitas Real Madrid Medical Services, he has been diagnosed with a sprained to the exterior lateral ligament in the left knee. His recovery will continue to be assessed”, the statement read.

While no definitive timeframe has been established by the club, medical sources consulted by Spanish news outlet AS claim that the midfielder is set to be sidelined for at least two weeks, with others stating it can take up to six weeks for a full recovery.

Marco Asensio could well profit from the 28-year-old’s suffering, with the 22-year-old certainly throwing himself into contention after playing a part in his side’s second and third goals in midweek. 


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VIDEO: Cristiano Ronaldo Makes Time to Catch Up on Liverpool’s 5-0 Drubbing of Porto

​Supporters often dream what life would be like as a professional footballer; what they would do on a daily basis to keep themselves entertained on their days off or after training. 

These theories often involve high-end sports cars, swimming pools or pottering around the expensive parts of the Monopoly board, enjoying fine food and donning overpriced designer clothing. 

However, Cristiano Ronaldo’s girlfriend, Georgina Rodriguez, has offered her Instagram followers a little insight into the world of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, and it seems he enjoys playing with his balls alongside the occasional groan of displeasure… 

Firstly, get your mind out of the gutter, that is not what I meant. The video portrays the 33-year-old enjoying some recuperating time on the sofa while playing his new game, ‘Ball in the hole’.

To be honest, that doesn’t make it sound much better, but the main objective seems to be throwing the type of plastic multicoloured sphere you would find in a Play Pit into a small hole, pretty self-explanatory

As I am sure you would imagine, this type of skill takes serious levels of concentration, however there’s always need for a bit of background entertainment, and Ronaldo opted to catch up on the other Champions League clash of Wednesday night, the one he was not involved in, Liverpool’s trip to Porto. 

It comes as little surprise to see the Portuguese hero take interest in a contest that houses a club from his home nation, or one that ended 5-0, however, it obviously was not thrilling enough, as he seemed quite content in focusing his attention towards ‘Ball in the hole’. 


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Neymar Calls on Experience From Barcelona Comeback in Hope of Emulating Heroics Against Real Madrid

Neymar​ has called on his memories from his time at Barcelona which saw them dump Paris Saint-Germain out of the Champions League at this stage last season in hope of emulating such feats when his side tackle Real Madrid in their return leg next month. 

A Cristiano Ronaldo brace and Marcelo volley counteracted Adrien Rabiot’s opener to hand the reigning champions a two-goal buffer ahead of the second-leg at the Parc des Princes on March 6, however, the Brazil international has experience of overcoming adversity at this stage of the competition. 

12 months ago, the 26-year-old played a pivotal role in Blaugrana’s inconceivable comeback, which saw them overturn a 4-0 deficit from the first-leg to scrape through to the quarter-finals via a famous 6-1 win over Unai Emery’s outfit, and despite the world’s most expensive player recognising Los Blancos’ advantage will be a task to overhaul, he has refused to admit defeat

“I think it’s difficult, but nothing is impossible”, Neymar told ​Globo Esporte following PSG’s 3-1 defeat. 

“Last year I was in a much worse situation and got through. I hope I can perform better and that we can do it.”

On the whole, Paris were arguably the better side on Wednesday evening, in what was a high-tempo, chance-swelled contest, however the France capital star admitted his side once again did not possess the “maturity” to tackle the grandest stage. 

“I think made mistakes in a few moments”, Neymar added. “We did not have the maturity to play in the latter stages of the second half. 

“I think we have to sort things out. We did not play a badly, but we have to improve if we want to get past Real Madrid.”


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6 of the Best Individual Away Performances in the Champions League Following Sadio Mane’s Hat-Trick

With the Champions League heading into the latter stages, now is the time the remaining teams look to their star players to step up to the mark. Players have the chance to write their names into Champions League history as well as cement their place in the history of their respective clubs.

Here, we will be looking at 6 of the more memorable individual performances away from home in Champions League history, performances which grabbed the world’s attention.

6. Roy Keane vs Juventus (1999)

If omens were anything to go by heading into Manchester United’s semi final clash with Juventus, United had never won a game in Italy and Juventus had never lost to an English side at home. To add to this, Juventus had a crucial away goal to their name after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in the first leg, and found themselves 2-0 up against United after 11 minutes.

United needed a miracle, up stepped Roy Keane. His header from a corner got his side back into the game after 25 minutes, and although a pursuing yellow card meant he’d miss the final should United make it, that didn’t stop the midfielder from performing. 

Keane continued to be a threat in attack whilst also snuffing out any Juventus threat in defence, becoming a key influence all round the pitch. Goals from Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole followed to send united through to the final – which they would go onto win – and fans would have a lot to thank Keane for, with his performance ultimately sending them through.

5. Didier Drogba vs Bayern Munich (2012)

All odds were stacked against Chelsea heading into the 2012 Champions League final. The final was played at the Allianz Arena in Munich, meaning their opponents for the final Bayern Munich would be playing on home soil, however there was one man who would haunt Bayern. 

After scoring the only goal in the first leg of Chelsea’s semi final against Barcelona, Drogba was keen to play a key role in the final. All looked to have been lost for Chelsea when Muller put Bayern 1-0 up with just seven minutes to go, however with just two minutes left, Drogba’s header came off the inside of the bar and past Manuel Neuer to keep their hopes alive.

The game went to penalties and after Schweinsteiger missed Bayern’s fifth penalty, it gave none other than Drogba the chance to win the Champions League for Chelsea, an opportunity he duly took. He sent Neuer the wrong way and Chelsea won the competition for the first time in the club’s history, and Drogba cemented his status as a club legend in doing so.

4. Thierry Henry vs Internazionale (2003)

Heading into their clash with Inter at the San Siro, Arsenal were on scintillating form in the Premier League, still yet to lose any of their first 13 games. However, their clash with the Italian giants posed a different threat. With the likes of Javier Zanetti, Ivan Cordoba, Marco Matterazi and Fabio Cannavaro in defence, they has arguable the strongest back line in football.

However this wasn’t to stop Henry. An exceptional display of pace and clinical finishing pursued, with Henry scoring twice himself and Arsenal running out 5-1 winners in an extraordinary display from Arsene Wenger’s men. Henry was the start of the show and alerted Europe’s top club of exactly what he was capable of.

3. Gareth Bale vs Internazionale (2010)

Tottenham headed into their clash with the reigning Champions League holders Inter Milan at the San Siro as serious underdogs, and proceedings couldn’t have started worse for the north London club when goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes was sent off and Spurs found themselves 4-0 down at half time.

On the verge of embarrassment, up stepped Gareth Bale in a game that would ignite his career. Two almost identical dazzling runs ended in Bale finishing from almost impossible angles, beating Julio Cesar at his far post. He completed his hattrick with just minutes to go and although Tottenham lost 4-3, Bale put his name on the European map.

2. Steven Gerrard vs AC Milan (2005)

It was a fairytale story for Liverpool fans, however at half time in the 2005 Champions League final, it looked all but that for Liverpool fans. The Reds found themselves 3-0 down after two goals from Hernan Crespo and a third minute opener from Paulo Maldini. Liverpool had to step up, and up stepped their captain.

Steven Gerrard got his side back in the game just 10 minutes after half-time, and afterVladimir Smicer got Liverpool to within one goal of the Italians, Gerrard won the Reds a penalty after a driving run into the Milan defence. Xabi Alonso missed the penalty however followed up with the rebound to complete the comeback.

Under the leadership of Gerrard, Liverpool went onto win the game on penalties in what remains to be seen as the greatest comeback in the history of the competition.

1. Ronaldo vs Manchester United (2003)

Real Madrid headed into the second leg of their Champions League quarter final clash with Manchester United with a 3-1 advantage from the first leg. United were in the mood to cause what would’ve been a very unlikely upset, however Ronaldo had other plans. Every goal United scored seemed to be countered by a moment of brilliance by Ronaldo.

He went onto bag himself a hattrick and although Real lost the game 4-3, they ensured their passage to the semi finals after winning 6-5 on aggregate. It was a sensational hattrick, who’s blistering pace and neat finishing was too much for united to handle that day and remains to be seen as one of the best individual performances in Champions League history.

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