Even before a ball was kicked at Malmö New Stadium on Wednesday night, Cristiano Ronaldo dominated headlines in Sweden and in Spain.
From a Malmö perspective, the focus was on containing the Portuguese sharpshooter. From Real Madrid’s side, the question was – would their No7 reach a pair of scoring milestones? One goal against Malmö would take him to 500 career goals. Two goals meant equalling Raúl González as the club’s all-time top scorer.
Fast forward to the final whistle and the man had made sure his name would remain in the headlines. After apparently fine-tuning his aim with a flurry of attempts in the first half, he made it count on 29 minutes, after being set up by Isco. In the dying minutes of the match, with Malmö still hoping to claw themselves back in the game, he struck again to secure the 2-0 win for the ten-time European champions.
“That the team won was the most important thing,” Cristiano Ronaldo told UEFA.com. “But I have to say that I’m happy to break the records. To become the highest scorer for Real Madrid, the biggest club in history, I’m so proud and happy. It’s a great moment.”
Ronaldo’s first five professional goals came as a youth product at Sporting CP. He added another 118 with Manchester United, and has 55 for Portugal. At Real Madrid, the two goals in Malmö brought him up to 323 – the same number as Raúl, only in 308 games rather than the Spaniard’s 741.
Malmö goalkeeper Johan Wiland has seen balls from Ronaldo sail past him into the net several times before, when representing FC København. After being beaten twice more on Wednesday night, the keeper was full of praise.
“He’s a great player and can do whatever he wants with the ball,” said Wiland. When conceding the first goal, Cristiano Ronaldo had plenty of time and space to pick his spot. For a long, long second or two, the whole stadium – Wiland included – had a sense of the impending goal. “It’s strange to come alone against him – you can expect anything.”
The man of the hour himself admitted to UEFA.com that he would now rest on his laurels. But not for long. “It’s fantastic, I will sleep happy tonight. But on Sunday we have another game, a derby against a fantastic team [Atlético Madrid]. I’m happy today. This was great for Real Madrid, great for me. But I’m thinking of next game which is the most important.”