at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Munich – Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo says the chance to win the Champions League title with Real Madrid in Lisbon means more to him than setting the new European goal-scoring record.
The 29-year-old Real star netted twice in Tuesday’s historic 4-0 rout of Bayern Munich as the holders suffered their heaviest home defeat in European competition to crash out of the semi-finals 5-0 on aggregate.
Ronaldo picked up his 15th and 16th goals of the current European campaign to help put the Spanish side into the final in Lisbon on May 24 as Carlo Ancelotti’s side humiliated the defending champions.
The Portuguese forward’s two goals helped him eclipse the previous best of 14 in a season registered by Barcelona’s Lionel Messi in 2011-12 and Jose Altafini of AC Milan in 1962-63.
“The team really helped me, I am overjoyed, but not primarily because of the cup record, but mainly because we now have the chance to win the title, especially in my home country, in Lisbon,” said Ronaldo, who was born on the island of Madeira, but started his professional career at Sporting Lisbon.
Real will face either Mourinho’s Chelsea or neighbours Atletico Madrid in the Lisbon final as they look to claim “La Decima” – their 10th European title having last reached the Champions League final in 2002.
“We’ll go there (to Lisbon) with our heads held high, but with our feet on the ground. It will be a difficult game,” said Ronaldo, with the final to be held at the Estadio da Luz, the home of Benfica, the local rivals of Sporting, who Ronaldo left in 2003 to join Manchester United as an 18-year-old.
Ronaldo put Real’s emphatic win down to their Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti as reigning European champions Bayern were humiliated in their own Allianz Arena stadium.
“It is solely the merit of Carlo Ancelotti,” Ronaldo said, as the Italian replaced Jose Mourinho, who now coaches Chelsea, at the start of the season.
“He changed everything, especially the mentality of the players.”
The World Player of the Year has reached the new record tally in just 10 appearances in the competition this season, his tally also including a hat-trick against Galatasaray in the group stage and braces against FC Copenhagen, Juventus and in both legs of the last-16 tie against Schalke 04.
Ronaldo has now scored 66 Champions League goals and is closing in on former Real Madrid striker Raul’s overall record for the most goals in the competition of 71. – Sapa-AFP