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Saviour & Centurion: Ronaldo rises yet again as Madrid march on towards semi-finals

Saviour & Centurion: Ronaldo rises yet again as Madrid march on towards semi-finals

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The Portuguese forward had not scored in the Champions League since later September, but popped up when it mattered most at the Allianz Arena

Cristiano Ronaldo is back from the dead and back in the groove. The Real Madrid attacker came into the Champions League quarter-final clash away to Bayern Munich without a goal in 613 minutes of European football but reports of the 32-year-old’s demise were greatly exaggerated.

On Wednesday night at the Allianz Arena, he found his shooting boots just when he was most needed to leave Los Blancos within touching distance of the last four.

Ronaldo at the double as Madrid beat Bayern

The Portuguese usually converts for fun in the continental competition, yet he had failed to register since scoring against Borussia Dortmund early on in the group stage and even that had only been his second strike in Europe. Two in eight games prior to this one.

That led many to question whether he could still do it against the very best, while former Madrid midfielder and coach Bernd Schuster even claimed the four-time Ballon d’Or winner had lost his appetite for goals.

In last season’s Champions League, Ronaldo netted 16 times in 12 games en route to the trophy, but all of those strikes were scored against teams that failed to qualify for the competition this time around: Malmo, Shakhtar Donetsk, Roma and Wolfsburg.

Arturo Vidal Bayern Munich

However, it would be a brave man to write off Ronaldo and he came good early in the second half with a clinical finish as Real sought a way back into the game after Arturo Vidal’s header had given Bayern the lead in the opening period.

Ronaldo hits 100th goal in Europe

Vidal also blasted a (highly dubious) penalty over the crossbar late in the first half and it looks like the tie turned on that moment because after the interval, Madrid came out with much more intensity and found their reward with Ronaldo’s equaliser on 47 minutes, when he beat Manuel Neuer with a precise right-footed effort from a Dani Carvajal cross.

Javi Martinez was then sent off for kicking the Portuguese and after that, Madrid edged closer and closer to a winning goal. Bayern were hanging on and there was Cristiano again to poke through Neuer’s legs after substitute Marco Asensio had curled in an inviting ball to the 32-year-old.

Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti had praised Ronaldo before the game and said he hoped his former player would start the game on the bench. And ironically, Cristiano had fought to try and keep the Italian coach at Madrid when the writing was on the wall for ex-Milan trainer.

Carvajal Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid

Under Ancelotti, Ronaldo and Madrid produced one of their most dynamic displays of recent times at the Allianz Arena in 2014 when Real ran out 4-0 winners and the Portuguese scored twice in the semi-final second leg to set a new Champions League goals record of 17 in a single season.

Isco: Madrid can win Liga & Champions League

Perhaps those happy memories helped the Portuguese to return to goalscoring form in this match, his two goals taking him past 100 strikes in European competition and, more importantly, edging Madrid closer to the last four of the competition.

After Barcelona’s damaging defeat on Tuesday at Juventus and now this result, Madrid will be favourites to lift the famous trophy again, having already won the European Cup on 11 occasions – including twice in the past three seasons.

And with Ronaldo having risen from the dead once more to prove that he can still score goals when it matters most, they will have an even better chance of winning number 12 in Cardiff in June.

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