Football Features

Is Cristiano Ronaldo’s goalscoring GOAT status now undisputed? Man Utd’s “genius” sinks Spurs

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 20:00, 12 March 2022 | Updated: 22:21, 28 November 2022

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a perfect hat-trick to lead Manchester United to a big 3-2 win over Spurs.

The Red Devils came into the game off the back of three games without a win and a chastening defeat to Manchester City, they knew they needed a big win here, and Cristiano Ronaldo provided the killer finishes to deliver it.

After missing the Manchester Derby for reasons no one fully understands yet, Cristiano was well-rested to face Spurs and got into gear very early on with a scorching long-range drive that recalled a much younger Cristiano in Porto.

After a lovely flick left the ball in his possession with Spurs showing only the slightest interest in maybe thinking about pressing him, the Portuguese simply let fly and the ball rocketed into the back of the net to make it 1-0.

That strike made it 805 career goals, drawing him level with Josef Bican, the Austrian striker who played from 1931 to 1955 and held the record of the top men’s goalscorer in official first-class matches.

Spurs fought back to deservedly equalise via a penalty, but late in the first-half a beautiful pass from Nemanja Matic sent Jadon Sancho clear, and the young winger picked out a gorgeous low pass that rolled across the Spurs box and who was there to tap it home? You guessed it.

Career goal 806, and Cristiano Ronaldo was now officially the greatest men’s goalscorer of all-timer. He was also level with Ruud van Nistelrooy on 95 Premier League goals for Manchester United, leaving him joint fifth overall.

But again, Spurs equalised.

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The match looked to be heading to a draw as both sides seemed to be out of energy, but when Alex Telles whipped a delicious corner into the box, who do you think rose high to head it home? That’s right, Cristiano Ronaldo.

807 career goals, now clear of Bican overall and Van Nistelrooy for United. A devastating display of match-winning magnificence. His overall performance was, as with all the United players bar Raphael Varane, Fred and Jadon Sancho, a bit sluggish and directionless.

But when United needed him, when a winner was required, Cristiano Ronaldo stood tall. Three. Different. Times. “Genius,” said Roy Keane during Sky Sports’ coverage. “Fantastic. People still question Ronaldo, but I always say if he’s on the pitch, you’ve got a chance.”

And on the evidence of today, you can’t really disagree with the Irishman, can you? Without Cristiano’s glorious goals, United are going home with a chastening defeat today and Antonio Conte has his first win at Old Trafford rather than a third straight defeat.

“In this era Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi they are the best, and you have to know very well that when you play against these type of player they are decisive,” said Antonio Conte after the match. “I think without Cristiano Ronaldo tonight, for United, it wasn’t a good night.”

He’s not wrong, is he?

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Beyond Josef Bican, the foremost outstanding claimant to footballing history’s goalscoring record is Pele. And the Brazilian himself states: “I have scored 1283 goals in my life.”

Fifa say Pele scored over 1,200 goals in his career. As do Guinness World Records. However, neither specify how many of those came in competitive games and, according to ESPN: “The general consensus among most record-keepers and media outlets, including ESPN’s own Stats & Information Group, is that Pele scored 757 official first-class goals during his career.”

Elsewhere, former Barcelona striker Romario is another goalscoring great who claims more than 1,000 goals.

Of course, if Cristiano Ronaldo does move to a weaker league (the MLS?) based on the way he took Spurs apart today, he could easily score more than even Pele and Romario’s Friendly-inflated totals if he dedicated himself to that task.