Cristiano Ronaldo stamps his real mark in Champions League’s Madrid derby

May 3, 2017
Real Madrid ace Cristiano Ronaldo heading his opening goal against Atletico Madrid in Champions League semi-final first leg at Bernabeu Stadium on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in Real’s 3-0 win.

At one stage of Real Madrid’s Champions League semifinal destruction of Atletico Madrid, it seemed to be a case of one No. 7 coming to the party and the other staying at home.

But in the end, that perspective would do not only Cristiano Ronaldo but also Antoine Griezmann a disservice.

That simplistic comparison, legitimately based around Griezmann’s emergence as a genuine heir to Ronaldo’s crown as football’s most magnificent seven, was ultimately rendered meaningless by the Real forward’s stunning hat trick of a first-half header and two second-half strikes.

Griezmann is a player of great talent, one who could yet become football’s biggest star when Ronaldo and Lionel Messi vacate the stage, but the 26-year-old Atletico forward remains a mere mortal when placed alongside the two players who have ruled planet football for the past decade.

Yes, this was the Frenchman’s night to lift Atletico to new heights, against Real in their own backyard, but when Ronaldo is in this kind of mood, nobody is going to steal the spotlight.

And no one did.

Get ready for the stats: This was Ronaldo’s second hat trick against Atletico this season, his third in total against Real’s neighbours and his 42nd for Real since he moved to the Bernabeu from Manchester United in June 2009.

That’s right: 42nd.

He has now scored 103 goals in 138 Champions League games, 13 of them in semifinals, and this hat-trick moves him level with Messi on seven in UEFA’s premier competition.

Just to make life a little easier for Atletico, Ronaldo has scored more hat-tricks against Sevilla (6), Espanyol (5) and Celta Vigo (4), but it is only the smallest crumb of comfort for Atletico to be fourth on his list of hat-trick victims.