Cristiano Ronaldo scored the 37th hat-trick of his Real Madrid career to fire Los Blancos through to the Champions League semi-finals at the expense of Wolfsburg on Tuesday night.
The 31-year-old stepped up when it mattered most and silenced his critics who previously suggested he was no longer capable of performing in big matches.
Ronaldo has now scored 16 goals in 10 Champions League matches this season and brought his overall tally to a remarkable 46 goals in 42 games.
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After the 3-0 victory, Ronaldo was asked which team he would like to face in the semi-finals.
Real Madrid will now face either Manchester City, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Benfica or Bayern Munich in the next round.
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Ronaldo: I want Benfica in the next round
And the three-time Ballon d’Or winner admitted he would love the opportunity to knock Benfica out of the competition.
“I would prefer Benfica in Portugal,” the prolific goalscoring forward was quoted as saying by Goal.
Ronaldo also praised the impact of Zinedine Zidane, the rookie coach who replaced the unpopular Rafael Benitez back in January.
"I loved Zidane as a player and I like the way he manages us,” Ronaldo added.
Ronaldo hailed by Zidane
Zidane was also full of praise for Real Madrid’s star player, describing him as the best footballer in the world.
"What can I say about Cristiano Ronaldo?" the French coach was quoted as saying by Spanish newspaper Marca. "He demonstrated who he is as a footballer and that is that he is the best player in the world.
"He truly is a special player. Cristiano needs the team and even he will admit that. But at the end of the day he truly is special as not everyone can find the back of the net three times in such a big match."
Ronaldo desperate to win the Champions League again
Ronaldo has already won the Champions League on two previous occasions - with Manchester United in 2008, and six years later with his current employers - but will be desperate to add a third winners’ medal to his collection next month.
If he inspires Los Blancos to glory at the San Siro in Milan on May 28, Ronaldo’s chances of winning a fourth Ballon d’Or award would significantly increase.
However, Ronaldo and co. will almost certainly need to do it the hard way.
Bayern Munich recorded a 1-0 win over Benfica at the Allianz Arena last week and it would be a genuine surprise if the Portuguese outfit, arguably the weakest team left in the competition, knocked Pep Guardiola’s side out on Wednesday night.
Will Real Madrid now go on to win the Champions League? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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