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Cristiano Ronaldo is not a man who shares the limelight.
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From the 57th to the 88th minute of Wednesday’s first Nations League semi-final between Portugal and Switzerland,
the video assistant referee (VAR) looked to have established itself as the night’s big talking point.
Referee Felix Brych’s technology-assisted decision to wipe out his on-field call of a Portugal penalty and instead award the Swiss a spot-kick for an incident seconds earlier was certainly a headline-hugging moment.
But having scored once prior to the penalty, Ronaldo was not to be outshone.
With two minutes remaining, the hosts’ talisman took control when he caressed his second past Yann Sommer, before completing a terrific hat-trick in injury time to send his country to Sunday’s final.
BBC Sport looks back on another decisive night for the man his manager calls a “footballing genius”.
88 and counting – what the numbers tell us
Ronaldo is the top international European goalscorer of all time with his treble on Wednesday taking him to 88 goals in 157 appearances, and he is showing no signs of being caught any time soon.
The former Real Madrid and Manchester United forward is 32 goals ahead of any active European player, with Robert Lewandowski still leading the line for Poland on 56.
|Europe’s all-time top international goalscorers|
|Ferenc Puskas||Hungary & Spain||84||89|
|Gerd Muller||West Germany||68||62|
|Robbie Keane||Republic of Ireland||68||146|
Only the tally of Iran’s Ali Daei (109 in 149 appearances) is better than Ronaldo’s in world football.
The Juventus forward’s latest hat-trick against Switzerland was his seventh for Portugal and his 53rd for club and country.
And here is a few other records to add to the list…
Ronaldo’s display had his manager, team-mates and the BBC Radio 5 Live pundits waxing lyrical about his talent, timing and longevity…
Portugal coach Fernando Santos: “In terms of adjectives to describe Ronaldo’s game, I’ve used many. I was his coach in 2003 and I could see where he’d go. He’s a genius. There’s genius paintings and sculptures and he’s a football genius.”
Portugal midfielder Bernardo Silva: “We’re used to this kind of thing, he’s been doing it for ages and it isn’t a surprise to anyone now. He scored three… nothing new for him. He’s often the difference maker.”
Former Chelsea and Blackburn striker Chris Sutton and BBC Radio 5 Live pundit: “The Portuguese Pied Piper leading Switzerland in a merry dance.
“The second goal was such a wonderfully worked move and he knew exactly what he wanted to do. It’s a goal of beauty the way he finishes it off. Then it’s a double step-over with a bending finish for the third. He is so hungry and he still moves like an Olympic athlete. He is 34 and he has no right to move like that.
“He is a real leader for this Portuguese team and it tells you everything about the way he leads his life. It’s a possibility that he could carry on playing until he is 40.
“He was the difference on the big stage once again. He has changed his game over the years. Ruthless Ronaldo.
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