It was like the script had already been written for Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese winger, who has very publicly been ‘sad’ with life at Real Madrid, had the chance to grab a late winner against Manchester City.
The 27-year-old didn’t disappoint, cutting inside and firing past England international stopper Joe Hart to complete a remarkable 3-2 turnaround for Los Blancos.
Madrid were behind twice in the match, despite the efforts of a resurgent Ronaldo in the early stages of the match, and were staring defeat in the face as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes.
Karim Benzema pulled the hosts level, before Ronaldo provided the perfect ending for his side. The former Manchester United star couldn’t contain his joy, celebrating wildly just two-and-a-half weeks after refusing to do just that against Granada.
“I celebrate when I need to celebrate," he told reporters post-match.
"It was a very important match and now we’re in the battle.”
Jose Mourinho’s side are very much in a battle, with English, German and Dutch champions also fighting for a place in the top two of Group D alongside last season’s La Liga winners.
The ‘Group of Death’ is expected to have plenty of twists and turns over the coming months, and whilst Madrid’s team of superstars are favourites to progress, much will hinge on the form of Ronaldo.
Having signed at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2009, CR7 finally got his hands on some serious silverware last season, lifting the domestic league title 12 months after winning the Copa Del Rey.
However, a change in tax laws is set to slash the player’s earnings, and reported unrest after defeat in the battle for the UEFA Best Player in Europe award left the player in a state of ‘sadness’. He thinks the situation has been dragged out for far to long though, and that his quotes should now be forgotten.
"This topic has been spoken about too much; are you never sad? Everyone in the world has the right to feel sad [so] I don’t regret any of the things I have said. Today I am happy because it was a very good match,” he concluded post-match.
“In the first half we had chances that we didn’t convert but the second half was perfect and we got a major victory. We believed we could win the game and we did. We knew we could score, we did and deserved to."
Having fallen at the semi-final hurdle on penalties last season, manager Mourinho is desperate to go a step further this season and reach the showpiece event of European football in 2013 at Wembley.
For that to happen, ‘the special one’ will need Ronaldo to replicate his fine form from last season in the competition, scoring 10 goals and creating countless others for his teammates.
Whether a ‘sad’ player can do that remains to be seen, but he certainly made a lot of people happy in the Spanish capital last night, and if he keeps scoring big goals in big games, then that cheeky grin will return on a much more regular basis for world football’s most expensive player.