Ronaldo silences critics with 'unbelievable' first half feat

Andrew Reid
·4-min read
Cristiano Ronaldo is seen here celebrating his Serie A hat-trick for Juventus.
Cristiano Ronaldo netted a stunning first half hat-trick against Cagliari in the Serie A. Pic: Serie A/AAP

Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo has made his doubters eat their words after an extraordinary display for Juventus that saw him break legendary Brazilian Pele's goalscoring record.

Ronaldo came in for heavy criticism after failing to fire for Juve last week when they crashed out of the Champions League to FC Porto in the round of 16.

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However, the 36-year-old silenced those critics with a first half hat-trick in his side's 3-1 win over Cagliari in the Serie A.

Nine-time defending champions Juve remain 10 points behind league leaders Inter Milan, who snatched a 2-1 win at relegation-threatened Torino.

However, it was all about Ronaldo at Cagliari as the Portuguese star scored a 'perfect hat-trick' to surpass Pele's record number of goals in official matches.

Ronaldo matched Pele's haul of 767 goals in official matches earlier in March, before surpassing it in a first half masterclass at Cagliari.

The Brazilian legend was quick to acknowledge the feat on social media, where he offered his congratulations to the Portuguese superstar.

"Congratulations on breaking my record of goals in official matches," Pele wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of himself and Ronaldo.

"My only regret is not being able to give you a hug today. But I leave this photo in your honor, with great affection, as the symbol of a friendship that has existed for many years."

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Ronaldo was somewhat fortunate not to get sent off a few minutes after heading in a corner for his first goal in the ninth minute.

He went in high to meet Federico Chiesa's cross and caught Alessio Cragno in the face, leaving the Cagliari goalkeeper with a cut to the chin.

But Ronaldo was shown just a yellow card.

The two clashed again in the 25th minute when Cragno tripped Ronaldo, who doubled his tally with a powerful penalty.

And Ronaldo completed his hat-trick seven minutes later, controlling Chiesa's cross and doing a little shimmy before curling into the far side of the net.

It was a so-called perfect hat-trick, as the Portugal forward scored with his head, right foot and left to leave fans in awe.

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Inter cement spot at top of table

It was a 57th career hat-trick for Ronaldo for club and country but only his second for Juve - his other was also against Cagliari, in January 2020.

Giovanni Simeone netted a consolation for Cagliari in the second half.

Meanwhile, Lautaro Martinez scored a late winner to help Inter move nine points clear of second-place AC Milan, who lost 1-0 to fifth-place Napoli.

Martinez netted five minutes from time after Antonio Sanabria had cancelled out Romelu Lukaku's 62nd-minute opener from the penalty spot.

Pictured here, Inter Milan's Lautaro Martinez celebrates after scoring against Torino.
Lautaro Martinez celebrates after scoring Inter's winner against Torino. Pic: Getty

Former Inter winger Matteo Politano did the Nerazzurri a favour when he clinically netted Napoli's 49th-minute winner, finishing off a counter-attack at the San Siro.

Milan, who missed veteran star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, pressed to no avail and had substitute Ante Rebic red carded in stoppage time, seemingly for insulting the referee.

Relegation-threatened Parma ended their 17-match winless streak with a surprise 2-0 win over high-flying Roma.

Valentin Mihaila scored in the ninth minute and Hernani converted a second-half penalty to secure Parma's first win since November.

Roma remain two points below fourth-place Atalanta in the race for the Champions League qualifying spots while Parma moved to within three points of safety.

Bologna beat Sampdoria 3-1 to move to within a point of the 11th-placed Genoa club.

with AAP

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