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Is Sergio Ramos the best big-game player in the world?

21:49 GMT 07/03/2017
Sergio Ramos Napoli Real Madrid
The Spain defender has a knack of scoring vital goals and did it again with two headers at the San Paolo to seal his side's place in the last eight


It is something that cannot be taught. Some players struggle in big games, while others thrive, but there are a few who always appear when it matters most. And none more so than Sergio Ramos.

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The Spain defender headed home deep into injury time in Lisbon to save Real Madrid from the jaws of defeat against Atletico in the Champions League final in 2014. It was a goal that was worth La Decima, the club's 10th European Cup crown, as Los Blancos won it in extra time.

En route to the final, he had also netted the opening two goals in Madrid's famous 4-0 win away to Bayern Munich (having taken a slender 1-0 lead to the Allianz Arena).

But all of that was just the start. He converted again in the Champions League final against Atleti at San Siro last May and also fired home from the penalty spot in the shootout as Real reclaimed the trophy.

And while Cristiano Ronaldo usually fills his boots with goals aplenty in the Champions League group stages, it is Ramos who saves his for the most important moments - like the last-16 match away to Napoli on Tuesday night.

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Madrid had found themselves a goal down after a forgettable first half and another for Napoli would have meant the Italians advanced to the last eight of the continental competition. But cometh the hour, cometh the man - there was Ramos again to head home for 1-1 early in the second period.

It was a goal that swung the tie back in Madrid's favour and just to make sure, the defender did it again with another header minutes later to make it 2-1 on the night and 5-2 on aggregate (although it was later confirmed to be a Dries Mertens' own goal after it deflected in off the Napoli striker).

His last seven goals in the Champions League have all been scored in the knockout stages and at one of the most hostile stadiums in European and even world football, his contribution on Tuesday was absolutely vital.

And it is not only in the Champions League. Ramos scored in the semi-final and the final of the Club World Cup in 2014 to help Los Blancos seal yet another trophy, while he repeated his Lisbon heroics in the UEFA Super Cup versus Sevilla in August as he headed home a late leveller to force extra time when, once again, Madrid went on to win it.

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In La Liga, he has made mistakes at the back at times this term, yet his contribution at the other end has been brilliant again. It was another header of his that sealed a precious point in the last minute of the Clasico clash away at Camp Nou in early December and he did it once more in the 3-2 win at home to Deportivo La Coruna just before Christmas.

"I don't know how Ramos does it," team-mate Alvaro Morata (who scored Madrid's third goal on Tuesday night) said after that match. "You think 'will he do it again?' F**k, I can't believe it, he's done it again!"

And he keeps on doing it. Madrid's win over Napoli seems straightforward enough with a 6-2 aggregate scoreline, but that does not tell the story of Tuesday's match. On the night, the intervention of Ramos changed everything for the current champions - and there is quite possibly no better big-game player in the world today.