In light of one of football’s greatest-ever individual achievements by one of the best-ever to grace the planet, it seems only fitting to (attempt) to rank the best goals Cristiano Ronaldo has ever scored.
Given the fact that he’s now scored 700 career goals, that is by no means an easy task. But hey, what better research can one be bestowed with than sifting through the shedload of magnificent strikes by on the game’s finest?
Wish me luck, eh?
20. vs Aston Villa (Premier League) 2008
At the stadium where he made a name for himself, this particular goal against Aston Villa in the Premier League demonstrated perfectly the abundance of arrogance, and confidence, Ronaldo had in himself to score from practically anywhere.
A corner was flung in and eventually fell to his feet, well, behind his feet, and he flicked it into the net beyond a despairing Scott Carson to put his side 1-0 up.
19. vs Rayo Vallecano (La Liga) 2012
Cheeky, cheeky. On this occasion, Ronaldo scored the winner for Real with a audacious back heel from around 10 yards out, which eluded the stunned Rayo Vallecano defence to hand his side a vital three points.
It bamboozled everyone watching on, so much so the Vallecano players appeared to stand still in awe. How can you generate that much power from backheel?
18. vs Galatasaray (Champions League) 2013
No side across Europe has avoided the Portuguese’s devastation, even those in Turkey.
Leading 5-1 at the time, Ronaldo, being Ronaldo, wasn’t content with his two-goal haul. So, as he does, he weaved his way past three Galatasaray defenders as if they weren’t there, before thundering a fierce effort home that nearly took the net off.
17. vs Sevilla (La Liga) 2013
Step-over, step-over, cut inside, left foot, boom.
Which foot? Doesn’t matter.
16. vs APOEL (Champions League) 2012
Disclaimer: There are plenty of free-kicks to come on this list.
Second disclaimer: This one is from a stupid angle and ridiculously pinpoint, and still by far not his best.
Nevertheless, from the corner of the penalty box, Ronaldo demonstrated why few in world football can hit a ball as precisely as he can. I mean, he barely even celebrates, it was that good.
15. vs Villarreal (La Liga) 2012
I told you there were plenty of free-kicks.
This time, in La Liga, he performed his signature knuckleball technique to mesmerising effect from a full 30 yards, across goal and right on the postage stamp. Honestly speaking, there is little more to say. Simply put, you know how he hits a ball, and how well, and this was just another sublime example of that.
14. vs Fulham (Premier League) 2007
Before the days of Eden Hazard’s outrageous solo goals in the Premier League, we were blessed to witness Ronaldo’s.
Picking the ball up in his own half, he beat two Fulham players down the left flank with his immense pace before cutting inside, without breaking stride, before hitting a clean effort low and hard to net an 88th minute winner for his side. Once again, individual brilliance won his side three points.
13. vs Marseille (Champions League) 2009
For eight years, Ligue 1 played host to one of the greatest free-kick takers that football has ever seen in Juninho. During a Champions League tie with Marseille in his debut season with Madrid, Ronaldo treated them to what they were all missing.
Zinedine Zidane’s post-match verdict on the forward says it all: “Cristiano is not just very good, he is phenomenal. Only great players can score such a magnificent goal three minutes into a game. He makes a difference. Some players are different from the rest because they do what others can’t.”
32 yards from goal, dead centre. No matter, unstoppable.
12. vs Manchester United (Champions League) 2013
This is how you jump. This is how you head a ball. This is why he’s among the best ever.
Taking on his former side while at Madrid, Ronaldo leaped a whole 78cm into the air to effortlessly direct Angel Di Maria’s left-wing cross past David de Gea. His kneecap went as high as Patrice Evra’s head. Super-human.
11. vs Arsenal (Champions League) 2009
By no means his cleanest, most beautiful free-kick ever. However, in terms of occasion and audacity, it is among his finest.
Playing away at Arsenal in a Champions League semi-final, from a whole 40 yards out Ronaldo unleashed an absolute rocket beyond a helpless Manuel Almunia (who some argue could have done better) yet nobody saw it coming. Not even the commentator. He hit it so hard.
10. vs Osasuna (La Liga) 2014
A tormentor of many sides in La Liga, there were a whole host of efforts to choose from. But his absolute rocket against a hapless Osasuna at the Santiago Bernabeu was something else.
Showing brilliant vision to open the scoring in the sixth minute, he cut inside from the right and drilled an unstoppable shot from outside the area that dipped and curled before hitting the top corner of the net. Fierce, yet bewildering beautiful to see, there was simply no stopping Ronaldo. Especially not poor, old Osasuna.
9. vs Barcelona (La Liga) 2017
He loved these games. You could tell. His goalscoring record against La Blaugrana proved it, and this one was the pick of the bunch.
Running from the halfway line at Camp Nou, he went full Cristiano before cutting inside and bending a magnificent piledriver into the far top corner. The shirt off celebration followed, but everyone inside the ground was busy collecting their respective jaws off the floor.
8. vs Atletico Madrid (La Liga) 2012
Most of Ronaldo’s greatest free-kicks are a perfect illustration of technique and execution. That’s why his free-kick against cross-city rivals Atletico was extra special. While the aforementioned traits were on show, the piece of mind to go for the far bottom corner against one of the world’s best ‘keepers in Thibaut Courtois was everything you didn’t expect, but should have.
Courtois certainly didn’t, stood rooted to the spot as he saw Ronaldo’s glorious effort nestle into the side netting. It was utter genius, and we shouldn’t expect any less. Did I mention is was a solid 30 yards out as well?
7. vs Manchester United (Champions League) 2018
He hasn’t had man former sides during his trophy-laden career, but that doesn’t stop Ronaldo finding the back of the net when they come calling.
This time for Juventus, a long ball over the top was watched with eagle-like precision all the way into the United box. Leonardo Bonucci knew all he had to do was find his frontman, and let him do the rest.
That, he did. As the ball dropped over his right shoulder, he met it superbly with his laces to guide a volley magnificently beyond De Gea, as if the routine came straight from a video game. That level of technique is unbeatable, you just wouldn’t know it because he makes it look so easy.
6 vs Hungary (European Championship) 2016
European Championships, Champions League, La Liga, Premier League.
Whatever the competition, Ronaldo remains unfazed. A barmy 3-3 draw with Hungary in the 2016 Euros (which his side won) was memorable for many reasons.
None more so than his deft flick from Joao Mario’s cross with his instep, that flew beyond the goalkeeper to add yet another style of goal he’s scored to his already excessive repertoire. In doing so, Ronaldo became the first player to score in four different European Championship finals. Legend.
5. vs Valencia (La Liga) 2014
Losing 2-1 against Valencia in added time, there is one man you call upon to make a difference.
And what he did, sure was different. Latching onto Di Maria’s crossed it from the edge of the box, Ronaldo twisted his body away from goal and backheeled a shot with his studs into the back of the net. It’s crazy how much pace he gets on the ball.
As they say, never miss leg day.
4. vs Spain (World Cup) 2018
In Sochi, he produced one of the 2018 World Cup’s greatest performances by scoring a hat-trick for Portugal against one of the tournament favourites Spain. Because, well, that’s just what he does.
This dramatic free-kick earned his side a 3-3 draw with minutes remaining in what will be remembered as one of the best in World Cup history. Curling an effort up around the Spanish wall, De Gea was left helpless as the outstanding effort had the net rippling.
A man for the moment, no doubt.
3. vs Portsmouth (Premier League) 2008
The reaction to Ronaldo’s free-kick against Portsmouth is one of glorious parallels. Few goals are met with equal measures of delight and gasps of disbelief. That’s just how good it really was.
That trademark knuckleball shot made its mark on the football world. Every kid tried to replicate it. Nobody can. Not in a packed Old Trafford, at least. And not as well as him, ever.
2. vs Porto (Champions League) 2009
Out. Of. Nowhere.
It speaks volumes of a player’s unpredictability when the long-range camera switches to a close-up thinking that we may see a burst of pace or short pass.
Instead, what transpired in that Champions League semi-final was a shot at goal that were it out in the open, there is no doubting would still be traveling to this day. A whole forty yards, and still, four goalkeepers wouldn’t have stopped it.
Simply outstanding. And would have been his greatest ever goal, had it not have been for..
1. vs Juventus (Champions League) 2018
You know it. I know it. No words, just let him say it.
“I don’t remember what happened in the following days but I was very happy.
“It wasn’t just for having won, or for scoring such a great goal, the one detail that made the difference was the reaction of the fans who applauded me.”
We were all applauding Cristiano. Every single one of us.