Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice en route to making history in Los Blancos' 3-0 win over Celta Vigo on Monday, Jan. 6, netting his 400th career goal in a near-flawless performance.
Real Madrid's official Twitter account confirmed Ronaldo's La Liga-leading count:
French striker Karim Benzema put Real ahead 1-0 in the 67th minute, but back-to-back goals in the waning moments from an in-form Ronaldo sealed the victory and elevated the 28-year-old into rare air, per sports journalist Ben Hayward on Twitter:
Cristiano Ronaldo now has 400 senior career goals and his 353 club strikes sees him surpass the Brazilian Ronaldo, who netted 352.— Ben Hayward (@bghayward) January 6, 2014
Unsurprisingly, the Portuguese standout would come away with Man of the Match honors, earning a ridiculous 9.5 match rating, according to WhoScored.com. Ronaldo touched the ball 52 times in all against Celta, but unloaded seven shots, three of which fell on target. He also completed 82 percent of his passes for the match.
After the match, Real manager Carlo Ancelotti had a simple explanation for Ronaldo's success, per the club's official Twitter account:
Ronaldo also took to his Twitter account after the match to dedicate his goals to Eusebio, who recently passed away:
I dedicate these 2 goals to you Eusébio but in fact you were the one who scored them. You'll always be in my heart. pic.twitter.com/VDbTBIOzPG— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) January 6, 2014
According to Infostrada Sports, Ronaldo's first goal, an 82nd-minute strike that doubled Real's lead, moved him into fifth place on the club's all-time leading La Liga goalscorer list:
RMA 2-0 CEL (82') Cristiano Ronaldo scores his 165th Liga goal, 1 more than Hugo Sánchez and 5th all-time for Real.— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaLive) January 6, 2014
Ronaldo's second goal, which came three minutes into injury time, would give him 400 for his career. He has 47 international goals to go along with his 353 club goals since 2002.
FutbolBible on Twitter noted the significance of Ronaldo's performance:
The following graphic from ESPN senior researcher Paul Carr shows Ronaldo's steady improvement over the past decade-plus:
With a brace today, Cristiano Ronaldo reached 400 goals for his professional career: pic.twitter.com/NPBKXCfpUd— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) January 6, 2014
Keep in mind Ronaldo needed 292 total appearances to score those 118 goals with United. He's nearly doubled that amount in only 221 total appearances with Real.
As The Times' football correspondent Oliver Kay points out, the question marks that once surrounded a teenage Ronaldo are now forgotten history:
Cristano Ronaldo scored 400th career goal tonight. 400 goals at age 28, having lacked end-product as teenager. That penny certainly dropped.— Oliver Kay (@OliverKayTimes) January 6, 2014
The win and three points gained keeps Los Blancos just five points off the championship pace set by Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. While scoring goals has certainly not been an issue for Ronaldo and his Real teammates this season, defending definitely has.
Real have conceded 21 goals through 18 league matches in 2013-14, compared to 23 combined between Barca and Atletico.
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