Cristiano Ronaldo is inevitable.
Just when Manchester United needed him most, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner delivered in a big way with his finest performance since returning to Old Trafford against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
With Harry Kane scoring a penalty and Harry Maguire putting through his own net, the Red Devils needed to pick themselves up and go again on multiple occasions if they wanted to stay in the hunt for the top four.
Ronaldo’s match-winning exploits
Thanks to Ronaldo, that was exactly what they were able to do with an astonishing longe-range strike, instinctive penalty-box finish and a glorious late header ensuring that United outscored their opponents.
Not only did it mark the Portuguese star’s second hat-trick in the famous red jersey, but it also secured an eye-catching statistic that shows just how important he’s been for the Premier League giants this season.
That’s because it was the sixth time across the 2021/22 campaign that Ronaldo has scored the match-winning goal in a league game, which is the joint-most in England’s top-flight so far.
With game-deciding strikes against Newcastle United, Arsenal, Norwich City, Brighton & Hove Albion and Tottenham twice, only Mohamed Salah can match Ronaldo’s tally of six this season.
Now, that’s an impressive statistic on its own terms, but one that nevertheless had us wondering where Ronaldo places in the all-time list of match-winning goals in the Premier League. Interesting, right?
Man Utd 3-2 Tottenham Match Reaction (Football Terrace)
Top 30 for Premier League match-winning goals
Well, thankfully, the data gurus at Transfermarkt keep track of that exact statistic and it turns out that Ronaldo’s deciding goal against Spurs actually pushed him into the top 20 with a total of 37.
Astonishingly, with Ronaldo having scored 96 times across his entire Premier League career, it means that more than a third of the goals he delivers in the competition settle the game in question. Madness.
Nevertheless, he’s still got some way to go when it comes to matching the most prolific of clutch players, so be sure to check out the 30 players with the most match-winning goals in Premier League history below:
=28. Romelu Lukaku – 32
=28. Olivier Giroud – 32
=28. Peter Crouch – 32
=26. Ian Wright – 33
=26. Didier Drogba – 33
=24. Jamie Vardy – 34
=24. Mohamed Salah – 34
23. Raheem Sterling – 35
=21. Sadio Mane – 36
=21. Ruud van Nistelrooy – 36
=16. Cristiano Ronaldo – 37
=16. Paul Scholes – 37
=16. Robbie Keane – 37
=16. Steven Gerrard – 37
=16. Michael Owen – 37
15. Robbie Fowler – 38
=12. Les Ferdinand – 39
=12. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink – 39
=12. Emile Heskey – 39
11. Jermain Defoe – 41
=9. Robin van Persie – 42
=9. Ryan Giggs – 42
8. Dwight Yorke – 45
7. Andy Cole – 46
=5. Harry Kane – 48
=5. Sergio Aguero – 48
4. Thierry Henry – 59
3. Frank Lampard – 61
2. Wayne Rooney – 66
- Alan Shearer – 68
A long list of clutch players
Now, obviously, the main caveat here is that the more games you play, the more goals you score and the more match-winning goals you amass, so Ronaldo is certainly at a disadvantage here.
You only have to look at the massive leap up in numbers from Aguero to the top four to get that impression with Shearer and Rooney also happening to be the Premier League’s two most prolific goalscorers full stop.
However, we can be as cynical as we want, but the moral of the story is that players like Lampard, Cole, Kane, Yorke, Giggs and so on had an uncanny knack of producing match-winning moments nonetheless.
Ronaldo’s decision to play the best years of his career away from English football have obviously stopped him from contending with the highest heights of the list, but you can be sure as heck that he’ll continue to climb.
Besides, if he plays just one more season at Old Trafford and bags another six match-winning goals, then he’ll enter the top 10 and pass heroes like Fowler, Gerrard and Hasselbaink along the way.
It’s almost like he’s one of the greatest players of all time or something.