Cristiano Ronaldo believes this current campaign is shaping up to be his best yet after the frontman netted his fifth hat-trick since October in his country's World Cup play-off win over Sweden. 

He was also grateful to Zlatan Ibrahimovic's gesture of applauding the Portugal number seven after netting his and Portugal's third of the night - an act the Swede has since denied was aimed at the Real Madrid man. 

The favourite for the Ballon d'Or has scored an astonishing 31 goals in just 22 games this season, including an incredible 13 in his last six for both club and country. 

That has prompted the former Manchester United man to suggest he could be about to embark on his best-ever campaign: "I am good every season - I prepare myself for this, and try to be the best I can. 

"Maybe, with the number of goals I have, this could be the best moment of my life. This could maybe be my best season, but I believe I always play my role."

In a slightly embarrassing turn of events, he went on to thank the 32-year-old Ibrahimovic after the Swede appeared to clap Ronaldo's third and final goal on Tuesday night, something the Paris Saint-Germain forward has moved to deny. 

Ronaldo said: "This time I won, but his gesture leave me very happy. Zlatan is a fantastic player and when you have the respect of your colleagues and fans it is a very nice feeling." 

But Zlatan countered: "Was I applauding Ronaldo? No, I was encouraging my team mates."

With his latest imperious performance with the eyes of the world watching, he's usurped Frenchman Franck Ribery as the leading candidate to collect the illustrious individual accolade awarded to the best player of the year.

But when asked about FIFA's top award, he refused to be drawn on it: "I do not want to talk more about the Ballon d'Or, I concentrate on doing my work as well as possible, with the national team and with my club."

After Sepp Blatter appeared to mock Ronaldo in a recent visit to the Oxford University here in England, it was rumoured Madrid's main man would snub the awards ceremony. 

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