Cristiano Ronaldo would now be on 100 international goals if Nani hadn't ruined his greatest goal

  • Rob Swan

Cristiano Ronaldo has been stuck on 99 international goals since netting in a 2-0 win over Luxembourg in November, which helped Portugal seal qualification for Euro 2020.

And his wait for his landmark 100th international goal will obviously go on for longer (perhaps much longer) than initially thought due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Ronaldo currently boasts a magnificent 99 goals in 164 international appearances for Portugal.

The 35-year-old subsequently finds himself just 10 goals behind the all-time record, set by Iran’s Ali Daei between 1993-2006.

Daei scored his 109 goals in just 143 games – a hugely-impressive average of 0.73 goals a game.

However, Ronaldo would already be on 100 right now if it wasn’t for his former teammate Nani, who denied his friend one of the all-time great goals back in 2010.

Portugal thrashed Spain 4-0 in November of that year – just four months after La Roja were crowned world champions for the first time – with Helder Postiga (2), Carlos Martins and Hugo Almeida netting the goals.

Ronaldo played the first 45 minutes and scored one of the most breathtaking goals you’ll ever see.

After receiving the ball 35 yards from goal, Ronaldo dribbles into the box, beats Gerard Pique with an expert cut-back, before lobbing Iker Casillas (arguably the world’s best goalkeeper at the time) with an exquisite flicked finish.

But before the ball crossed the line, Nani appeared from nowhere to head the ball over the line.

The then-Manchester United winger was in an offside position and the goal, to Ronaldo’s dismay, was disallowed.

Ronaldo had a meltdown on the pitch and, to be fair, his reaction was totally understandable.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner had just been denied the most beautiful goal of his career.

He’s scored some scintillating goals down the years, but it’s hard to think of a better one than this.

To his credit, Ronaldo refused to blame Nani after the match. Instead, he expressed his anger at the match officials for not spotting that the ball had already crossed the line.

“I don’t understand, even a blind man could see it was a goal. The ball was half a metre into the net,” he told Marca. “I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not but my best goals with the national team are being disallowed. I remember an overhead kick in the Bessa stadium which wasn’t given.”

Nani, however, still issued an apology via the media for denying the world one of the greatest goals ever.

“I touched the ball because I thought I wasn’t offside. Everything happened so quickly,” explained Nani. “After having time to think about it I apologised to Ronaldo. It was a great piece of play and I shouldn’t have ruined it.”

Still, Nani would eventually make amends by helping Ronaldo become a European champion six years later.

Ronaldo suffered an injury during the first half of the Euro 2016 final against France – but Nani and his teammates still managed to inspire Portugal to a shock victory.

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