Cristiano Ronaldo scored his fifth goal since returning to Manchester United. The Portuguese striker brought the Red Devils three precious Champions League points against Villarreal with a last-second shot that took a deflection to get past Villarreal keeper Geronimo Rulli.
Manchester United won the game 2-1 and took some revenge after Villarreal beat them to the Europa League trophy last spring. Ronaldo was on the scoresheet in the previous round as well, when United were surprise losers in Bern to Swiss champions Young Boys (2-1).
Ronaldo’s goal against Villarreal caused an explosion of happiness among the Manchester United faithful. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his staff, the players, and supporters didn’t hold back from celebrating. In front of Old Trafford, some fans engaged in a mass Ronaldo-like celebration, which has gone viral.
Ronaldo, the record-breaker
In the Champions League alone, Ronaldo has numerous records to his name. Against Villarreal, he beat Iker Casillas’s number of appearances in Europe’s most prestigious club competition. Ronaldo is now the first in this hierarchy at 178.
He also set the records for most goals scored in the Champions League history at 136, most goals in the knockout stages at 67, as well as most goals scored during a single season at 17 (2013-14). The five-time Ballon d’Or winner, now 36, hopes to add to those out-of-this-world numbers. His contract with Manchester United runs out in 2023.
Michael Dawson's reaction to Cristiano Ronaldo's last minute winner yesterday 🤣 pic.twitter.com/VRTiYU4Znh
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) September 30, 2021
Ronaldo’s goal against Villarreal was his third winner scored after the 90th minute, also a record in the UCL. Ronaldo’s 95th-minute strike puts him ahead of long-time rival Lionel Messi on the list of players who scored against the most opponents. Ronaldo has now netted in front of 37 different Champions League clubs, compared to Messi’s total of 36. Ronaldo has no fewer than 250 game-winning goals, the all-time best for a football player.
His friend and former colleague at United, Rio Ferdinand, revealed on Wednesday what Ronaldo told him after the clash with Villarreal.
“Cristiano texted me saying ‘I didn’t play well … but I knew I’d score.’ That’s the belief he has. The other players are feeding with it,” Ferdinand divulged.
“Unbelievable, another chapter, another beautiful chapter, I’m so happy to have scored the winning goal on the night when I beat the record for most Champions League appearances,” Ronaldo told Manchester United’s channel. “It was a great night, we gave a good answer after we conceded a goal. The fans did an unbelievable job, pushing us all the time.”
The biggest factor in last night's comeback victory? Each and every one of 𝘆𝗼𝘂 ❤
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 30, 2021
Since his return to Man. United last month, Ronaldo has played five games, scoring five times. He started his new life at Old Trafford with a brace against Newcastle on Sept. 11. The only Man. United game in which he played and didn’t score was in the Premier League against Aston Villa last weekend.