The magnificent seven: The games that defined Ronaldo’s career

class=”styled__BannerImage-sc-1wadlxz-1 iLJqYu styles_articleMainImage__Lj_Qv”>Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his goal in the 2008 Champions League final for Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his goal in the 2008 Champions League final for Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo has joined LiveScore as Official Global Brand Ambassador.

Great players are defined by their greatest moments — and Cristiano Ronaldo has had them in abundance.

The Portuguese superstar, LiveScore’s brand new ambassador, has a reputation for stepping up on the big occasions and taking his game to the next level when it counts the most. 

From decisive goals to world-class performances, here are the seven games that have helped shape an iconic career.

1. Sporting Lisbon 3-1 Manchester United (Friendly, 2003)

Sporting Lisbon's Cristiano Ronaldo tormented Manchester United in a 2003 pre-season friendly
Sporting Lisbon's Cristiano Ronaldo tormented Manchester United in a 2003 pre-season friendly

So significant is this pre-season friendly that in the intervening years its legend has grown and grown. 

Beaten 3-1, the story goes that United’s senior players were so impressed by the performance of 18-year-old Ronaldo that they pleaded with Sir Alex Ferguson to sign the teenager up before leaving for the airport.

In reality, the deal had been longer in the making than that. 

“I already knew that Manchester was going to be my future,” Ronaldo has since said. 

“Despite everything that was written at the time, United’s interest in me did not just occur after that friendly match. It was not just because of that performance, even though I know it was a good one.”

2. Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea (Champions League final, 2008)

An emotional Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates Manchester United's 2008 Champions League final win with Ryan Giggs and Sir Alex Ferguson
An emotional Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates Manchester United's 2008 Champions League final win with Ryan Giggs and Sir Alex Ferguson

The official UEFA man of the match at a rain-soaked Luzhniki Stadium was Edwin van der Sar. 

While the United keeper’s penalty shoot-out heroics shouldn’t be forgotten, few would deny it was actually Ronaldo who was the difference-maker in the first Champions League final contested by two English teams.

The 2007-08 campaign had been the forward’s most successful year at Old Trafford, but his last contribution of the season was by far the most important.

Twenty-six minutes in, Ronaldo stamped his mark all over this final. Wes Brown lofted a deft left-footed cross to the back post where the Portuguese towered over Michael Essien to nod beyond a motionless Petr Cech.

The game was sent to extra-time and penalties by Frank Lampard, but United prevailed and it was clear their No7 was destined to conquer not just the continent, but the world. 

3. Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United (Champions League semi-final, 2009)

A masterclass of devastating efficiency from a still relatively young Ronaldo helped United into a second Champions League final in 2009. 

He would make his then record transfer to Real Madrid just a month later — but first he gave the visiting supporters at the Emirates Stadium a show of glorious individual brilliance. 

With United 1-0 up from the first leg, there was a necessary urgency about Arsenal. But that only allowed the away side to play their natural counter-attacking game. 

Ronaldo was at the heart of everything, supplying the first goal with a run to the byline and a low cross, which Park Ji-Sung converted. 

Then came Ronaldo’s astonishing free-kick, lashed past a shell-shocked Manuel Almunia from 40 yards out. 

Admittedly, Almunia might have done better. But there was nothing he could do about Ronaldo’s second, United’s third — a ruthless breakaway involving Park, Wayne Rooney and finished emphatically by United’s No7.

Cristiano Ronaldo's trophy haul
Cristiano Ronaldo's trophy haul

4. Sweden 2-3 Portugal (World Cup play-off, 2013)

Regardless of whether it’s for club or country, Ronaldo is the man for the big occasion, always leading from the front. 

Never was that truer than in November 2013, as Portugal met Sweden in a tussle for a place at the World Cup in Brazil the following summer. 

Leading 1-0 from the first leg, Ronaldo put the Selecao on the precipice of qualification before Sweden — led by their own talisman — roared back with a five-minute brace from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Anything you can do, I can do better, as the saying goes — Ronaldo was not about to be upstaged. 

Two goals in three minutes ended the hosts’ World Cup hopes and put Ronaldo level with Pauleta as Portugal’s all-time leading scorer. 

He even drew applause from Zlatan…

5. Juventus 1-4 Real Madrid (Champions League final, 2017)

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Real Madrid beat Juventus 4-1 in the 2017 Champions League final
Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Real Madrid beat Juventus 4-1 in the 2017 Champions League final

Ronaldo secured a third Champions League in four seasons for Los Blancos with a typically influential performance in the 2017 final. 

Mario Mandzukic’s stunning overhead kick cancelled out Ronaldo’s opener, which had been swept coolly into the bottom left corner past a helpless Gianluigi Buffon. 

But Real Madrid soon stormed ahead. A deflected Casemiro shot put the Spaniards back in front, before Ronaldo scored his second. Luka Modric’s cross from the byline was met by the Portuguese, who fired home at the near post. 

Marco Asensio added a fourth late on, and Ronaldo’s inimitable career continued to hit new heights with victory over the club he would later join.

6. Portugal 3-3 Spain (World Cup, 2018)

The 2018 World Cup was only two days old when Ronaldo lit up the tournament with one of the greatest individual displays in the competition’s history. 

Portugal and Spain met in Group B’s second match with the winner favourite to top the group. It was billed as two Iberian powerhouses colliding and it didn’t disappoint. 

Four minutes in, Ronaldo converted a penalty. Diego Costa hit back. 

Forty minutes later, Ronaldo restored Portugal’s lead. Costa hit back again. 

Nacho then gave the reigning world champions the advantage for the first time and it looked as though La Roja were in the driving seat. 

They should have known better. 

Two minutes from time, Ronaldo left his indelible mark on the game by lifting a laser-guided free-kick over the Spanish wall and into the top corner to secure a stunning 3-3 draw. 

In doing so, he became just the fourth player to score at four consecutive World Cups after Pele, Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose.

7. Juventus 3-0 Atletico Madrid, Champions League, 2019

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with Juventus team-mate Giorgio Chiellini during his hat-trick performance against Atletico Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with Juventus team-mate Giorgio Chiellini during his hat-trick performance against Atletico Madrid

When Juve forked out £88million for Ronaldo, making him the most expensive player aged over 30 in football history, they did so with one thing in mind: Champions League glory. 

The Bianconeri have not lifted Ol’ Big Ears since 1996 — despite reaching five finals — and no-one is more synonymous with the competition than Ronaldo. 

So with Max Allegri’s side trailing Atletico 2-0 from the first leg of their last-16 tie, the script was lying in tatters. 

Enter Ronaldo. 

His first was typical of the man, leaping highest at the back post to meet Federico Bernardeschi’s cross before bullying Juanfran to power a header beyond Jan Oblak. 

Number two owed something to goal-line technology, but Juve still needed one more to advance.

With four minutes remaining, Angel Correa tripped Bernardeschi in the box and Ronaldo — the coolest man in a pulsating Allianz Stadium — drilled low into the bottom corner to complete his hat-trick. 

It was never in doubt.

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Manchester UnitedReal MadridJuventusChampions LeagueCristiano Ronaldo