'Best Player in the World' Cristiano Ronaldo Plays Down Ballon d'Or Chase

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistSeptember 11, 2019

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (L) vies with Lithuania's Mantas Kuklys during the UEFA Euro 2020 Group B qualification football match Lithuania v Portugal in Vilnius, Lithuania, on September 10, 2019. (Photo by Petras Malukas / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP/Getty Images)
PETRAS MALUKAS/Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo's four-goal performance against Lithuania on Tuesday is "clear and irrevocable proof that he is the best player in the world," according to Portugal manager Fernando Santos. 

The Juventus star, though, played down his chances of winning a sixth Ballon d'Or this year, saying he doesn't "live thinking about individual prizes."

Ronaldo's eighth international hat-trick saw Portugal to a 5-1 win in their UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier with Lithuania, and also moved him to within 16 of Iran's Ali Daei in the list of all-time international goalscorers:

Vytautas Andriuskevicius scored for the hosts to make it 1-1 just before the half-hour mark at the LFF Stadium after Ronaldo's opener.

But following three more goals from Ronaldo, William Carvalho netted in stoppage time to complete the rout.

When Ronaldo was substituted with 11 minutes remaining, he was given a standing ovation.

For Santos, his performance was proof that he is the best player in the world, per Sacha Pisani of Goal:

"This is the clear and irrevocable proof that he is the best player in the world. There is no stadium in the world where Ronaldo is not applauded. He is the best in the world. 

"We went to Paris in my first game, and the hotel in France was just across the street. There were a thousand people at our door. I think it's strange when he doesn't score. They say it is ending. ... Nothing is ending. You have to be careful because it never ends."

Ronaldo, 34, scored 21 goals in his debut Serie A campaign last term as he helped Juve win an eighth consecutive Scudetto.

He also played a key role as Portugal won the inaugural UEFA Nations League back in June.

As a result, he has been nominated for FIFA's The Best Men's Player award this year:

He will likely be among the finalists for the Ballon d'Or as well, which is awarded later this year, although he is behind Virgil van Dijk and Lionel Messi in the betting, per Oddschecker.

When asked after the Lithuania victory about the prospect of winning the prestigious award for a sixth time, Ronaldo said, per Pisani:

"As I always say, I don't live thinking about individual prize. I scored a goal against Serbia [on Saturday] and four here and I'm very happy. We have to dismiss this moment and what I want most is to continue like this."

Consecutive wins against Serbia and Lithuania mean Portugal finish the international break second in qualifying Group B, five points behind Ukraine with a game in hand.

Ronaldo will be back in action in Serie A when Juventus face Fiorentina on Saturday. 

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