“This kind of thing can spur me on to carry on,” warned Cristiano Ronaldo as he spoke to UEFA.com after setting another record tumbling with four goals for Real Madrid.
A two-time winner, it is suffice to say Cristiano Ronaldo has a special affinity with the UEFA Champions League. The 30-year-old was already the competition’s all-time leading scorer with 84 before his four-goal haul against Malmö in Real Madrid’s 8-0 Group A demolition took his tally to 88 and saw another record fall as he became the first player to hit 11 during the group stage.
The feat is made all the more remarkable by the fact he registered blanks on matchday three and four against Paris Saint-Germain, scoring all his goals in just four matches in this season’s competition, Malmö (two away, four home) and Shakhtar Donetsk (home three, away two) feeling the full effects.
“I’m very happy,” the forward told UEFA.com. “Obviously records happen and for that I feel happy. I’m really good – I have a lot of confidence and this tonight is a big plus for me.
“I think the group stage went really well. We’ve won almost all of our games and were the best side in the group. The side is confident, we’re happy and this is a bonus going into the next games.”
The Madrid No7, who is also the club’s all-time leading goalscorer, previously shared the group-stage record with Shakhtar Donetsk’s Luiz Adriano, who had equalled Ronaldo’s tally of nine from 2013/14 last season.
Then, the Portugal captain went on to set a new record of 17 goals in one campaign as the Whites claimed La Décima. With 11 now under his belt and at least two more games to come in the round of 16 he will have his sights set on yet another milestone.
“We played with a lot of personality,” said Ronaldo, who was directly involved in his side’s first six goals, including a devastating 12-minute second-half hat-trick to become the first Madrid player to score four in a Champions League tie as the Merengues were rampant.
“From the off we wanted to score, win and play a complete game and that’s what we did. To score eight goals is an amazing result, independent of whoever the opponents are. On a personal level, I’m really happy to be able to score and help the side,” he added.
Indeed, the 8-0 result was also a piece of history for the Merengues, who recorded their highest-ever tournament win, equalling Liverpool’s competition-record victory over Beşiktaş from 2007/08. That Reds side, incidentally, were managed by Madrid coach Rafael Benítez and featured full-back Álvaro Arbeloa.
“When you’ve got ambitious players it helps a lot and Cristiano is one of them,” said Benítez of his star man. “He’s fundamental for us. To see him fight and constantly look for more helps spur us all on.”
While scoring goals has not been a problem for Madrid in the league this season, for Ronaldo personally, his superlative Champions League exploits make a return of ten strikes in 14 Liga outings seem paltry, a number that means he currently sits joint fourth in the goalscoring charts, four behind leader Neymar.
However having bagged eight in his last four games in all competitions, Ronaldo will no doubt feel he can catch the Brazilian and, not content to rest on his laurels, issued a word of warning for future opponents after Tuesday night’s exploits: “This kind of thing can spur me on to carry on working hard and improving this season.”