With 57 free-kicks to his name, Ronaldo is placed second on the list of active players with most free-kicks. As a young kid, Ronaldo was noted for his unique knuckle ball technique. During his early Manchester United days, Ronaldo scored several free-kicks that left the viewers gasping for breath. Ronaldo’s free-kick taking ability has declined several folds in recent years. Hence, it is all the more important to go back and appreciate the moments where he stunned the world with free-kicks. In this article, we will take a look at five of the finest free-kicks by Cristiano Ronaldo.
#5 Real Madrid 2-0 Atletico Madrid, 01/12/2012
Simeone’s Atletico Madrid visited Santiago Bernabeu in the 2012/13 La Liga with full knowledge of the threat that Ronaldo poses to them. But pitifully, they failed to control him, a mistake they would repeat in the following seasons. In the 16th minute of the game, Ronaldo stood over a dead ball situation which looked near impossible to score at a first glance. But it was the perfect distance and angle for Ronaldo’s knuckle ball technique. He powered the ball to the right of Courtois and the Belgian could not do anything to stop the goal. Ronaldo also set up Real Madrid’s second goal, ensuring a dominant victory.
#4 Bayern Munich 0-4 Real Madrid, 29/04/2014
In the semi-finals of the 2013/14 UCL, Real Madrid was drawn against Bayern Munich. Los Blancos won the first leg at Bernabeu by a 1-0 margin courtesy of a Benzema goal. The Bavarians were expected to give a tough fight in the second leg but the game turned out to be a one-sided affair. Sergio Ramos scored two superb headers while Ronaldo put the game to bed by finishing off a ruthless counter-attacking move.
In the dying moments of the game, Ronaldo got the opportunity to take a free-kick from just outside the box. This is a difficult area to score from since the wall will be very near. Knowing this fact, Ronaldo improvised and and hit the ball under the wall. Neuer watched haplessly as the ball rolled into the net and Ronaldo registered his 16th goal of the competition.
#3 Portugal 3-3 Spain, 15/06/2018
A World Cup game for the ages as Portugal and Spain were at each other’s throat for 90 minutes. Ronaldo opened the scoring for Portugal from the spot but Diego Costa equalized with a spectacular individual effort. Just before half-time, Ronaldo struck again courtesy of some lazy goal-keeping from David de Gea. But Costa’s tap-in and Nacho’s worldie gave Spain the lead.
Ronaldo was desperately searching for an equalizer and Pique needlessly fouled him a few yards outside the box. But Spain’s wall consisted of tall players such as Busquets, Pique and Ramos. This meant that only the most perfect of curled free-kicks could beat de Gea. Ronaldo did exactly that by placing the ball smoothly into the top right corner of the net.
#2 Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United, 05/05/2008
Among the finest free-kicks by Cristiano Ronaldo is his 40 yard hit against Arsenal in the 2009 UCL semi-final. United had won the first leg 1-0 and took an early lead at Emirates through Park Ji-Sung. In the 11th minute of the game, Ronaldo stood over a free-kick in the far right corner of the pitch. The position of the ball meant it was tailor made for a cross into the box. However, Ronaldo had other ideas. He hit the ball so menacingly to the left of Almunia and the ball thundered into the net. It was a heart-in-your-mouth moment in many ways and the occasion made it more special.
#1 Manchester United 2-0 Portsmouth, 30/01/2008
Unsurprisingly, topping the list of finest free-kicks by Cristiano Ronaldo is his brutal hit versus Portsmouth. The immortal line “David James stood like a statue” will forever be etched in the minds of United fans who witnessed it live. The beauty of this free-kick is everybody knew where the ball was heading but nobody could do anything about it. It was hit with a knuckle ball technique which resulted in a lot of revolutions and made it impossible for David James to react.