Much has been written of Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent achievement on the domestic and European stage. Having adopted a more hands-off approach to his game, the Portuguese has ironically enjoyed greater personal success in front of goal. And so it was the case tonight, with the forward once again showcasing his brilliance to clinch a brace against Apoel Nicosia. In a remarkable testament to his quality and longevity on the European stage, Ronaldo has now scored in the opening Champions League game in each of the last six seasons. He may 32 years old, but Ronaldo has shown few signs of letting up.
Dani Ceballos described Cristiano Ronaldo as “the soul of the team” after he made a decisive return to action in Real Madrid’s Champions League win over APOEL.
The Portugal star scored twice to take his career tally in the competition to 107 and give Zinedine Zidane’s side a winning start in the defence of the trophy.
It was Ronaldo’s first competitive appearance for Madrid since the first leg of the Supercopa de Espana, with the 32-year-old to serve the final instalment of a five-match domestic ban against Real Sociedad on Sunday.
The European and Spanish champions have drawn their last two La Liga games in his absence and Ceballos has admitted that they need him back as soon as possible.
“With Cristiano on the field, we’re always more comfortable and he gives us the confidence that turns in to goals,” he said.
“He’s the soul of the team, he’s fundamental for us and he’s in better shape than ever. He’s had a great game and his ambition makes him the best in the world.”
In scoring a penalty against APOEL in the Champions League on Wednesday, he has now scored 12 times from the spot in Champions League action, more than any other player in the competition’s history.
His spot kick took him one clear of great rival Lionel Messi, who has scored 11 penalties for Barcelona in the competition.
Ronaldo scored his first spot kick in the competition way back in 2007, when he converted for Manchester United against Dynamo Kyiv in a 4-2 victory. It was the only penalty he scored for the Red Devils in the competition as he missed his other in a 0-0 draw with Barcelona at Camp Nou.
Since moving to Madrid, he has converted 11 of 13 kicks in the European Cup.
Messi has also missed three penalties in his Champions League career, including two in knockout competition.
While the Argentine has scored his last three, Ronaldo has now made six straight since failing against Ludogorets on October 1, 2014 during a match in which he later converted.