Â Zinedine Zidane’s side edged out Club America to seal a place in the final as Cristiano netted for the first time in the competition as a Real player
December 16, 2016: Cristiano Ronaldo has completed the set for Real Madrid. Already the all-time top goalscorer in the history of the Spanish side with 376 strikes before Thursday’s game against Club America, the Portuguese had failed to net in only one competition for Los Blancos: the Club World Cup. But he changed that on Thursday – and he did it with the 500th strike in his club career.
The 31-year-old, who claimed the Ballon d’Or for the fourth time on Monday, had told the media prior to this match that Madrid were not in Japan on holiday. They were here to win another trophy, he claimed, and on a personal level he was also keen to get his name on a scoresheet in the competition for the first time as a Real player.
Cristiano converted for Manchester United in a 5-3 win over Gamba Osaka in the 2008 Club World Cup, that match played in the same stadium as Thursday’s gameÂ against America. However, he did not score in the final as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side beat LDU Quito 1-0 and failed to net in Madrid’s matches against Cruz Azul and San Lorenzo en route to the trophy in 2014.
But now he has his Club World Cup goal for Madrid. It took a long time coming, however, and after he had hit the post twice, missed the target with a header with an open goal at his mercy and endured something of a frustrating evening in Yokohama, the Portuguese raced onto a James Rodriguez pass to fire under the goalkeeper from in the 93rd minute to secure a 2-0 win after Karim Benzema had scored the opener in first half stoppage time.
That strike was Ronaldo’s 500th career goal at club level. He’s scored 377 of those for Madrid, while 118 came at Manchester United and five at his first club, Sporting.
Of the 377 he has hit for Real, 270 were scored in La Liga, 80 in the Champions League, 21 in the Copa del Rey, two in the UEFA Super Cup, three in the Spanish Supercopa and now one in the Club World Cup.
The latest strikeÂ helped round off a hard-fought victory against an America side that made life difficult under former Mexico coach Ricardo La Volpe and secured a place in the final where Madrid meet local team Kashima Antlers.
Two more milestones for Cristiano – goal number 500 and also a first for Madrid in the Club World Cup – made it a satisfying week for the Portuguese. Now, he will look to end it with another trophy.
Real, 36 games unbeaten since April, will be huge favourites to add the Club World Cup to the Champions League crown and UEFA Super Cup already won under Zidane in 2016. For Ronaldo and for Madrid, it has been quite a year.