Cristiano Ronaldo scored the eighth hat-trick of his Champions League career as Juventus came from two goals down to oust Atletico Madrid in the second leg of their last-16 tie.
The Italian side lost 2-0 in Madrid last month, a tense encounter that saw Atleti coach Diego Simeone get a little bit carried away at one point.
However, just as he’s done on so many occasions in the past, it was Ronaldo who had the last word – scoring thrice at the Allianz Stadium to maintain his own personal record of qualifying for the quarter-finals for the last nine seasons uninterrupted.
The first came in the 27th minute, when Ronaldo outmuscled his man to head home a swirling Filippo Bernardeschi cross at the far post.
The second followed along five minutes into the second half, when a sprawling Jan Oblak came within centimetres of swatting another powerful Ronaldo header away, only for goal-line technology to confirm that the whole of the ball had *just* crossed the white paint.
The stage was set; 2-2 on aggregate; the atmosphere postively pulsating as Ronaldo and Juve scampered around chasing a winner as Atleti desperately struggled to keep the dam from bursting.
Sure enough, cometh the 86th minute, the industrious Bernardeschi was felled in the area and that man Ronaldo, without the slightest hint of apprehension, placed the ball on the spot and fair rammed home the winner.
An entire city shook.
Simeone’s ultra-deep, defensive game plan backfired horribly and Ronaldo seized the shift in momentum to do what he does so well, and so unerringly. What a stud.
Indeed, Ronaldo’s hat-trick moves him back level with Lionel Messi in the overall count (8). No other player has ever scored more than three.
As for total Champions League goal tallies, Ronaldo now has 125 to his name – the first ever player to reach that milestone in UEFA club competition.
— Dario Donato (@Dario_Donato) 12 March 2019
When it comes to delivering when the stakes are at their highest, few relish and rise to meet the challenge quite so consistently.