Two goals in eight Champions League appearances this season. It was a stat that would never read well for a player Cristiano Ronaldo’s calibre. Moreover, against an in-form Bayern Munich, there aren’t many players in the world who can get back their scoring touch.
But this is Cristiano Ronaldo. With his brace against the Bavarians, he helped Real Madrid come from behind to notch a 2-1 away win in the first leg of the quarterfinal tie.
The hosts at the Allianz Arena had threatened the defending champions with a brand of fluent attacking football. As such, it was no suprise when Bayern the lead through an Arturo Vidal header in the first half.
But Zinedine Zidane’s Galacticos regrouped effectively during the half-time break. And within two minutes of the restart, their talismanic forward got them back on level terms.
In terms of his position in the starting lineup, the 32-year-old plays on the left side of the Real Madrid forward line. That itself provides a hint of the deception that comes with Ronaldo’s play, given that he is well adept at barging into the middle and working as a centre forward.
His first goal came in just that fashion. He stormed in towards the centre from the left, and side-footed Daniel Carvajal’s low cross past Manuel Neuer – who has been in good form himself in the Bayern goal.
It was a typical poacher's strike which highlighted his anticipations and positioning. But importantly, it gave Madrid an away goal. And with it, Ronaldo ended his run of six Champions League games without scoring, the drought ending after 659 minutes.
Bayern’s manager Carlo Ancelotti would have known all about Ronaldo’s capabilities, but still there is no stopping the Portuguese skipper when he’s in flow. It was his quick-footed trickery that drew Javier Martinez into carelessly tripping him, leading to a second bookable offence and forcing Bayern to play with a man short after 61 minutes.
In the 77th minute, Ronaldo scored again with another surge into the box, this time from the right, to push the ball in with his studs after a delightful Marco Asensio cross. It was his sixth goal in five previous Champions League matches against the German club.
Also, with his second goal of the night, Ronaldo notched up his 100th goal in UEFA club competitions (97 in Champions League, one in Champions League qualifier, two in European Super Cup). Importantly for Real Madrid, they head to the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu with two away goals in the bag.
The reigning Ballon d'Or winner was certainly the game changer on the night.