Cristiano Ronaldo has marked moving further ahead as the top international scorer of all time with his 58th career hat-trick – but some fans feel he has little to boast about after racking up more goals against minnows Luxembourg.
Stats-watchers were quick to revise Ronaldo’s astonishing figures as he stretched his lead at the top of the all-time scoring charts, moving six clear of former record-holder Ali Daei as his 10th treble for Portugal made it 115 international goals for the Manchester United marksman.
Debates about the greatest players of all time inevitably follow whenever Ronaldo or Lionel Messi reach new landmarks, with one accusation regularly leveled against the Selecao captain concerning the quality of opposition he has scored a significant proportion of his goals against.
Despite Luxembourg’s lowly ranking – they are currently 94th, directly ahead of Vietnam and behind Jordan and Congo – Ronaldo was in no mood for playing down the feat.
🇵🇹 @Cristiano (115 goals)
🇮🇷 Ali Daei (109)
🇲🇾 Dahari (89)
🇭🇺 Puskas (84)
🇦🇷 Messi (80)
🎩 @Cristiano's 10th hat-trick for @selecaoportugal powers him on to 54 goals in his last 49 caps and further clear as the highest-scoring male in international football history 🤯 pic.twitter.com/16rPrCQQ6V
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) October 12, 2021
Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored the most hat-tricks in men’s international football history (10) 🇵🇹
Another game, another record! 🐐 pic.twitter.com/Qe4YOqkMS3
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) October 12, 2021
“Another victory, another step towards our goal, another historic night in defense of our colors,” the 36-year-old chirped on Instagram after Portugal moved closer to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“Everything becomes easier when we play at home and in front of an audience that cares for us from the first to the last minute.
“I had promised that I would always be looking for more and more and more. It is in my DNA and in our DNA.
Cristiano Ronaldo JUST needs 6 goals to reach 800 OFFICIAL career goals milestone.🐐 pic.twitter.com/dFcSP3bmD6
— The CR7 Timeline. (@TimelineCR7) October 13, 2021
All I ever hear is how Neymar scores in a farmers league, can someone take a look at some of the teams Ronaldo and some of the other European stars play against. I mean really this is ridiculous.
— Scott Cuttre (@SCuttre) October 12, 2021
“We are never satisfied, we never let our arms down and we will always fight for everything we can achieve. Go Portugal.”
Critics on social media often dismiss the superstar as ‘Penaldo’ because of his record being beefed up by penalties, and he added two against Luxembourg before a close-range 88th-minute goal to complete his haul.
That made Luxembourg the international team he has scored most against, with his total of nine in the fixture representing two more than he has notched against next-nearest teams Lithuania and Sweden.
King of penos and tap ins against Luxembourg and Lithuania 😂😂😂😂
— Will 🏴 (@will_roddersLFC) October 13, 2021
— Arindam ♏ (@TheArchitect032) October 12, 2021
The two best teams Ronaldo has hit a hat-trick against are Spain and Switzerland, but the other eight sides on the list could hardly be considered heavyweights, including the likes of Andorra, Armenia, the Faroe Islands and Northern Ireland.
“All I ever hear is how Neymar scores in a farmers’ league,” said one unimpressed viewer, referring to the derogatory title with which the French Ligue 1, in which Neymar and Messi play for Paris Saint-Germain, is often known by its detractors.
“Can someone take a look at some of the teams Ronaldo and some of the other European stars play against? I mean really, this is ridiculous.”
Another argued: “King of penalties and tap-ins against Luxembourg and Lithuania.”
The many devout admirers of the world’s most followed figure on social media were predictably undeterred.
“Cristiano Ronaldo scored back to back hat tricks in the Champions League against prime [goalkeepers Manuel] Neuer and [Jan] Oblak,” gushed one, pointing out their hero’s generally convincing record against elite opponents.
"@Cristiano isn't the 🐐" 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 13, 2021
“So you can’t troll his hat-trick against Luxembourg. He has done it relentlessly against the best with ease.”
United’s Twitter account posted that it would be a huge ‘red flag’ for anyone to suggest that Ronaldo is not the greatest player of all time.
Portugal are a point behind leaders Serbia with a game in hand in qualification Group A. Their home match against the team currently above them, on November 14, is likely to be crucial in deciding which of the rivals reaches the finals automatically.
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