Rio Ferdinand has expressed his awe at Cristiano Ronaldo’s overhead kick against Juventus on Tuesday, describing the former Manchester United man as a “joke”.
The Portuguese, having given Real Madrid the lead after three minutes in Turin, stunned the watching world with a remarkable acrobatic effort, leaping two feet in the air to power home an overhead kick that shot into the bottom corner before Gianluigi Buffon could do a thing.
Juventus supporters collectively stood up to applaud what was perhaps the finest goal of Ronaldo’s career; the 33-year-old duly added an assist for Marcelo later on to completely put the tie to bed.
And Ferdinand, speaking on BT Sport after the game, was full of adulation for his former teammate.
“He’s in a relentless pursuit of greatness and produces a moment of brilliance,” he said.
“To see one of the greatest if not the greatest player on the planet produce a movement like this. Look how high he is off the floor? He’s a joke.”
“Another goal I was fortunate to see was that Wayne Rooney goal [against Manchester City in 2011], it may have been a bit more shinny, but it’s the occasion, where he is scoring this goal.”
“The thing is about this guy, he turns up, every time he is asked to deliver on the big stage, he delivers.”
Five goals in the quarter-final against Bayern Munich last year, three in the semi against Atletico Madrid, two in the final against Juventus, three in the last 16 against Paris Saint Germain, and now two in the first leg of this quarter. You can be sure he will add to that next week.
It is amazing to think that some were speculating Ronaldo was entering a decline earlier this season amid a dry patch. This clearly infuriated the 33-year-old. He now has 24 goals in his last 14 games, each one scored with a sense of vengeance, of cold, ruthless precision. And at an age when even the very best are starting to wind down as well.
Madrid are favourites to win this year’s Champions League for the fourth time in five years because of this man alone.