A ruthless Cristiano Ronaldo scored a dazzling hat-trick to lead Real Madrid to a crushing 3-0 victory over city rivals Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday.
The Portuguese forward put his team on the verge of their third final in four years and took his tally to 103 goals in the competition as he helped Madrid vanquish their neighbours at the Santiago Bernabeu.
It was another demoralising European defeat for Atletico at the hands of Real, who had beaten Diego Simeone's side in two of the competition's last three finals.
The plaudits, however, belonged once again to the extraordinary Ronaldo, who followed up his hat-trick against Bayern Munich in the quarter-final second leg at the Bernabeu with another superb treble, his 42nd in all for Madrid.
"It is great to have a player like Ronaldo. You need someone to score to get the result and he is unbelievable," Real midfielder Toni Kroos said, praising his teammate on BT Sport.
Within minutes of completing the incredible feat of scoring back-to-back hat-tricks in the Champions League finals stage, social media was flooded with adulation for the Portuguese.
Here is what some of his fellow teammates and former players had to say:
— Gareth Bale (@GarethBale11) May 2, 2017
— Alan Shearer (@alanshearer) May 2, 2017
Another @ChampionsLeague hat trick for Ronaldo. He's ridiculous.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) May 2, 2017
"We are very happy with the game, with the three goals and above all keeping a clean sheet at home," said Real's coach Zinedine Zidane, after taking a huge step closer to guiding his side towards becoming the first to successfully defend the European Cup since AC Milan in 1990. Ronaldo's feat also evoked a lot of traffic from fans, not just his or Real Madrid's but even from fans of his former club Manchester United and even some Arsenal 'fans':
Cristiano Ronaldo. £80m bargain. I said it at the time that we were being taken for a ride and I'm saying it again now. Daylight robbery. — DanielPierre (@EDPC66) May 2, 2017
Cristiano Ronaldo. £80m. Biggest bargain ever. We got robbed, @ManUtd . How could people ever doubt him.
— Sebastián Perry (@sperrylh) May 2, 2017
You may not like Ronaldo or his style or whatever, but if by now you can't respect what he's done in football, that's wack. He's LEGENDARY.
— 'Zatore (@Cerebrone) May 2, 2017
Ronaldo would probably score 13 goals against Arsenal over 2 legs 😂 — Notorious Footy (@NotoriousFooty) May 2, 2017
Ronaldo drags Real Madrid from a 1-0 deficit to a 2-1 away win. First ever player to score 100 European goals. Legend. Iconic. Phenomenon. — Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) April 12, 2017
Ronaldo won't be appreciated until long after he's retired. Having played for two of the most hated clubs. Rivals can't admit his genius. pic.twitter.com/2iYFik6u2K
— Stephen Howson 🇾🇪 (@MrStephenHowson) April 12, 2017
With inputs from Reuters
Updated Date: May 03, 2017 14:04 PM