Ronaldo’s Road To The 100 Club

By Ralph Chery

Cristiano Ronaldo’s 100 European goals started with his first one against Debrecen in Champions League qualifiers for Manchester United in 2005 and concluded with his winner against Bayern Munich on Wednesday. 

Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to reach the 100 goal mark in all European club competitions after his double against Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals.

The Portuguese star outpaced his rival Lionel Messi, who has 97 goals to his name.

Ronaldo didn’t score his first European goal until his 17th game. The striker was scoreless in Sporting Lisbon’s three European games in the 2002-03 season.

After transferring from Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United in 2003 young Ronaldo didn’t score in European competitions in his first two seasons with his new club.

The forward finally find the net in Europe on September 8th, 2005 in a UEFA Champions League third qualifying round match against Debrecen, thanks to Wayne Rooney’s low cross that he tapped in the net after freeing himself.

Ronaldo’s first European goal was his only one in the 2005-06.

A campaign later, the Portugal captain opened his account in the UEFA Champions League and recorded his first brace in United’s 7-1 win over Roma in the CL quarterfinals. His first goal of the game was voluptuous left-footed shot from just inside the 18 and his second a sliding-finish from Ryan Giggs’ cross.

In 2007-08 Ronaldo had his best scoring season in Europe for United, tallying eight goals. His first goal of that season was a header against his former club, Sporting, in the CL group stages.

Later in the round of 16 the striker netted the decisive goal in Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Lyon. The forward missed a penalty against Barcelona in the semifinal of the tournament, however his side reached the final alongside Chelsea.

Ronaldo netted the opener of the 2008 CL final as he headed Wes Brown’s cross to the bottom left corner in the 26th minute. Frank Lampard equalized for Chelsea and the game eventually went to penalty kicks. Ronaldo missed United’s third spot kick in the shootout to Petr Cech.

The Portuguese attempted to juke Cech by pausing before hitting the PK but the keeper guessed his side and was able to get a hand on the ball. Despite Ronaldo’s miss United went on to win the final.  The 32-year-old was the Champions League top scorer that season with eight goals.

Ronaldo scored some of his most marvelous European goals in the following season. One of them was 40-yard blast against Porto, a goal that pushed United to the semis. The forward said his screamer was the best goal of his career. His strike won the FIFA Puskas Award.

Ronaldo’s next goal in the competition was also out of the extraordinary, a cracking 39-yard free kick against Arsenal in the semifinal. He finished that game with two goals and capped his European career with Manchester with 16 goals in 55 games.

In his first Champions League for Madrid, Ronaldo scored two free-kicks against Zurich in a 5-2 win in the group stages. The striker finished his first European season with Madrid with seven goals in six games.

He held on to his breathtaking for, scoring 28 goals in the next three seasons. And later in 2012-13, Ronaldo scored the equalizer in a 1-1 draw against his former club, United, in the first leg of the round of 16 and the game-winning goal in second game.

The Portuguese had his best scoring season in Europe in 2013-14, tallying 17 goals in 11 games. He added 10 more to his account in the following year and 16 in 2015-16.

In spite of his previous scoring glory, the forward went six games without scoring in the Champions League this season. He broke the drought against Bayern with a brace. A brace that pushed him to the 100 European goals mark.

His 100th and winner against Munich was a finish with the bottom of his foot from Marco Asensio’s cross.