Pele pays tribute as Ronaldo breaks goal scoring record, answers critics with hat-trick

Pele has congratulated Cristiano Ronaldo for ‘breaking his record’ of goals scored in official matches.

Portuguese star Ronaldo hit a hat-trick for Juventus in a 3-1 Serie A win over Cagliari to bring his total to 770 goals.

The 36-year-old took to Instagram to tell his 270 million followers he could now claim the record, having matched Pele’s 767 on March 2.

“I’m filled with joy and pride as I acknowledge the goal that puts me on top of the World’s goalscoring list, overcoming Pele’s record, something that I could never have dreamed of while growing up as a child from Madeira,” Ronaldo wrote.

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Brazilian great Pele, 80, wrote on Instagram to his 5.8 million followers: “Congratulations on breaking my record of goals in official matches.

“I admire you a lot, I love watching you play and this is no secret to anyone. “My only regret is not being able to give you a hug today.”

“Cristiano life is a solo flight. Each makes his own journey. And what a beautiful journey you are having!” Pele — the only player in history to win three World Cups — has claimed to have scored 1,283 goals in total, including in unofficial matches.

Ronaldo’s goals include 668 for club sides — five with Sporting Lisbon, 118 for Manchester United, 450 for Real Madrid and 95 for Juventus. He has also scored 120 for Portugal.

Some media however put Czech Josef Bican on 805 goals, ahead of both Ronaldo and Pele.

Former Brazilian striker Romario also claims to have scored 1,000 career goals including unofficial matches. Other sources attribute 772 to him.

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Ronaldo hit back at his critics with the quick-fire hat-trick as Juventus brushed aside Cagliari, five days after their Champions League elimination, while Inter Milan moved nine points clear at the Serie A summit.

Ronaldo bore the brunt of the criticism for Juve’s latest European flop after failing to score in either leg of the last-16 defeat by Porto, while also being partly at fault for what proved to be the winning goal.

But the 36-year-old scored a header after less than nine minutes at the Sardegna Arena, added a second from the penalty spot, and completed a ‘perfect’ treble on 32 minutes with a fine left-footed strike.

Defending champions Juventus are 10 points behind Inter Milan, who beat Torino 2-1 earlier Sunday, but with a game in hand.

Andrea Pirlo’s side pulled just one point behind second-placed AC Milan, who host Napoli later Sunday, as they try to keep their push for a 10th consecutive Scudetto alive.

Ronaldo broke the deadlock early on, rising high to nod in a Juan Cuadrado corner.

But he could have been sent off after a quarter of an hour, receiving only a yellow card for dangerous play as his boot struck Cagliari goalkeeper Alessio Cragno in the face while attempting to meet a Federico Chiesa cross.

Ronaldo’s second came from the penalty spot in the 24th minute after being brought down by Cragno.

He completed the 57th treble of his career when he collected Chiesa’s pass and blasted a left-footed strike into the Cagliari net, at the only stadium in the Italian top flight where he had not previously scored.

Ronaldo is the leading scorer in Serie A with 23 goals this season, ahead of Inter’s Romelu Lukaku, who has 19.

It was his third hat-trick for Juventus since joining in 2018, after also putting three past Cagliari in the league last season and in the Champions League against Atletico Madrid in 2019.

Before kick-off, Juventus chief football officer Fabio Paratici dismissed talk about Ronaldo’s future.

“It makes me laugh. I would never have imagined discussing the value of Cristiano Ronaldo,” said Paratici.

“It’s a privilege to have him with us, he’s part of our future.” Cagliari, two points above the relegation zone, pulled a goal back through Giovanni Simeone in the 61st minute.

Source – Fox Sports

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