Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick heroics for Juventus against Atletico Madrid mean that he now owns as many Champions League match balls as eternal rival Lionel Messi.
The Portuguese has been the all-time leading scorer in Europe’s premier club competition for some time.
He pulled further clear of the chasing pack in his most recent outing.
Juve headed into a home date with Atletico needing inspiration from somewhere as they trailed a last 16 encounter 2-0.
It came as little surprise to see Ronaldo step up and deliver the kind of match-winning showing with which he has become synonymous.
8 – Cristiano Ronaldo has scored eight Champions League hat-tricks, the joint-most in the competition alongside Lionel Messi. Titans. pic.twitter.com/q2b0equOYb
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 12, 2019
He single-handedly turned a continental clash on its head by breaching one of the tightest defensive units in the business on three occasions.
And in doing so, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner matched the hat-trick return of a man from Barcelona with whom he has spent several years raising the bar for individual excellence.
Ronaldo entered the meeting with Atletico, still on seven Champions League hat-tricks for close to two years.
He was, however, running into a favoured foe.
The Rojiblancos often found themselves on the receiving end of his prolific strike rate during his record-breaking spell at city rivals Real Madrid.
Atletico were the last side that Ronaldo fired a European treble against, back in the semi-finals of 2016-17.
He had achieved the same feat a round earlier during that same season against Bayern Munich.
Ronaldo now has his first hat-trick for Juve as the records continue to tumble around him.
Remarkably, in his debut campaign with the Bianconeri, he is now the joint leading scorer of Champions League goals at the Allianz Stadium.
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) March 12, 2019
Ronaldo has also helped Juventus to achieve their own piece of continental history.
Never before have they been able to overturn a two-goal deficit in order to keep their European dreams alive.
Ronaldo is now on course to chase down a fourth successive Champions League crown, having completed an historic hat-trick prior to leaving Madrid.
He has lifted that trophy on five occasions over the course of his remarkable career, and was taken to Turin in an effort to create a turnaround for a club who have not tasted European glory since 1996.
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