Cristiano Ronaldo powered Manchester United back into the Premier League’s top four with a hat-trick against Tottenham — writing his name into the history books in the process as football’s all-time leading goalscorer.
According to FIFA’s official stats, Ronaldo’s new total of 807 career goals eclipses Josef Bican’s long-standing record of 805.
Having sat out the 4-1 derby drubbing at Manchester City last Sunday, there was a buzz around Ronaldo’s return to the starting line-up.
And his dazzling display delighted United interim boss Ralf Rangnick. The German tactician said: “It was his best performance, at least since I arrived.
“He was good in training on Thursday and that is why I decided to start him. Fantastic performance by him but also by the rest of the team.
“It was not just the three goals it was also he was part of the team when they were in possession of the ball.
“It was probably our best performance bearing in mind the quality of the opponents. It was necessary, we had to win the game and it will give us a boost for our next game [against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday].
“We showed the kind of reaction we were due to show after the bad second half at the Etihad. The team deserved to win. Coming back after two equalising goals in that style was great.”
Opposite number Antonio Conte was equally complimentary about Ronaldo’s performance.
The Spurs boss said: “We’re talking about a player who showed he is a top, top player. Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are the two best players in the world in this era.
“When you play against this type of player, they’re decisive. Without Ronaldo, for United it wouldn’t have been a good night.
“I think we didn’t deserve to lose, but at the same time we need to understand how we can improve.”
United midfielder Paul Pogba added: “Everybody knows Cristiano — there’s no need to talk about him.
“That’s what he does. He didn’t play in the last game but he comes back and scores three goals. Everybody’s happy.”
Ronaldo, 37, opened the scoring at the Theatre of Dreams after just 12 minutes with a rocket of a long-range effort that left Hugo Lloris beaten all ends up.
That stunning strike moved the Portuguese superstar level with Bican, who played between 1931 and 1957, on 805 goals for club and country.
Harry Kane levelled from the spot in the 35th minute before Ronaldo restored the lead for Rangnick’s men with his second of the evening just three minutes later.
A Harry Maguire own goal gifted Spurs another equaliser midway through the second half but there was still time for United’s hero to bulge the net for the 807th time in his illustrious career.
With just nine minutes left on the clock, the veteran attacker sent the Old Trafford faithful crazy when he rose highest to nod home the winner and complete only his second hat-trick for the Red Devils.
While five-time Ballon d’or winner Ronaldo will rightly claim the headlines, Rangnick will reflect on the fact his side once again occupy the all-important final Champions League spot — for 24 hours at least.
Fifth-placed Arsenal are just two points behind United and can move back above them tomorrow by beating Leicester at the Emirates.
Ronaldo’s hat-trick in pictures