4. Ronaldo vs Manchester United (2003)
2003 was the height of the Galactico era at Real Madrid. The club had a galaxy of stars representing them including Zidane, Figo, etc. It was the ‘El Fenomeno’, Brazilian Ronaldo who stole the show that day.
Ronaldo is one of the greatest strikers of all time. He was a predator inside the box. He left defenders on the floor and was capable of scoring goals from all angles and areas inside the box. He was the personification of the fox in the box.
Real Madrid was leading Manchester United 3-1 going into the second leg of the Champions League knockout fixture at Old Trafford. Ronaldo lit up the stadium much to the dismay of home fans with an exhilarating display of finishing. All three goals that he scored on his way to the hattrick were ruthless without giving even an iota of chance to the defender.
Sir Alex Ferguson had grimace written all over his face as his team played along helplessly. Ronaldo wasn’t the fittest player on the pitch. But his ability to mercilessly kill defenses with his sharp movements and dribbling was on full display that day.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo vs Atletico Madrid (2017)
Once Diego Simeone remarked that if not for Cristiano Ronaldo, he would have already won a couple of Champions League titles. Here we were, another European night against Atleti, another CR7 masterclass.
There was an air of superiority around this performance as Ronaldo stepped on the field as if he was better than everyone else. A touch of inevitability in his goals. And he was better than every footballer on earth that season. Atletico Madrid had no answer to his hat-trick that night at the Bernabeu.
It all started with a header during the early stages of the game. The second goal was a thing of beauty. The ball bounced in front of Ronaldo. Atleti players could watch in slow motion as Ronaldo thumped the ball into the back of the net. After his hattrick goal, Ronaldo stood and looked up at the colossal stands of Bernabeu as if saying to the Real Madrid fans, it is all in his control. And it was, Real Madrid did win the Champions League that season and Ronaldo had reached the zenith of the football world.