Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

Amazing skils by Cristiano Ronaldo 

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  • Cristiano Ronaldo was the man of the moment yet again as he notched four goals for Real Madrid  
  • The Portuguese superstar scored his first with a brilliant strike when he fired in from 25-yards
  • Ronaldo then added a wonderful free-kick into the top corner of the net for his second goal of the afternoon
  • The 31-year-old completed his trio of strikes when he tapped in from six-yards after being assisted by Isco
  • He then powered in a header to make it an astonishing four goals as the rain began to fall at the Bernabeu
  • Jese hit a low effort to make it six before the returning Gareth Bale got in on the act firing in from edge of the box   
  • Former Liverpool flop Iago Aspas scored a consolation for the visitors when he delicately chipped Keylor Navas  
  • Pepe had headed the opening goal for Zinedine Zidane’s men after a fairly even first-half from both sides 

Cristiano Ronaldo scored four goals as Real Madrid beat Celta Vigo 7-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday, breaching two milestones in the process. Ronaldo now has 30 La Liga hat-tricks, the most in history, and has netted over 250 goals for Los Blancos.

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The outgoing midfielder is often compared to Kenny Dalglish and Billy Liddell when it comes to the best in the club’s history, but his achievements and dedication trump the lot

Among the multitude of tributes, it was hard to beat the wonderfully eloquent, particularly brief tweet from a World Cup, double Champions League and double European Championship winner. “My mate. My hero,” wrote Xabi Alonso when Steven Gerrard announced he was leaving Liverpool.

Others nevertheless tried to. Luis Suarez, the man Gerrard regards as his finest team-mate, branded the Liverpudlian a “legend”. Daniel Sturridge, who may succeed him as the face of the franchise, described Gerrard as Liverpool’s greatest player.

Sturridge is too young to have watched Kenny Dalglish play, let alone Billy Liddell, the third man often touted as Anfield’s most illustrious individual, but he has a point. Jamie Carragher, who has a deeper understanding of history, started making the same argument about five years ago. Then Dalglish was appointed manager and Carragher diplomatically changed the subject.

But, as far as Liverpool are concerned, the banner in the Kop during Saturday’s farewell against Crystal Palace rang true. “The best there is, the best there was and the best there will ever be,” it read.

And without risking predictions about the future, it is a safer assertion about the past. How good was Gerrard? He touched such heights that he was named PFA Player of the Year in 2005-06, when he played predominantly as a right-sided midfielder, and Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year in 2008-09, when he operated as a No. 10. Try finding other players who have been named the best in the country in two different roles that were not even their preferred position.

It shows an extraordinary versatility. Gerrard’s gifts, of pace and power, of an ability to pass the ball incisively over both long and short distances, of a capacity to unleash ferocious shots, of fierce tackling and of being able to raise his game on major occasions, equipped him to play almost anywhere.

How good was Gerrard? So good that he was the catalyst for probably the greatest comeback of all and the man of the match in arguably the most extraordinary Champions League final yet. Ten years on, his performance in Istanbul remains as astonishing as it was then, and not just because he spent extra-time in Turkey as a wing-back. It was his masterpiece, but far from the only example of an almost unrivalled habit of determining games virtually single-handedly. Think of Olympiakos, the 2006 FA Cup final, the 2007 and 2008 trips to Newcastle or the 2012 visit of Everton, when he scored Liverpool’s first Merseyside derby hat-trick for three decades. He was the biggest of big-game players. When he decimated Real Madrid and Manchester United in the space of a few days in 2009, Zinedine Zidane felt he was the finest footballer in the world.

Gerrard was a force of nature, a one-man whirlwind. At his very best, he seemed unstoppable. Some of the other defining players of his generation only proved their excellence alongside similarly distinguished talents. Gerrard did so without them. Michael Owen and Fernando Torres were both lesser forces when separated from Gerrard, a sign a footballer always aware of his own goal tally was invariably selfless when serving as a supplier on the pitch, but he could prosper with inferior colleagues. In the modern era, where talent has been concentrated at the top, surely no great player has had as many mediocre team-mates as Gerrard.

No Liverpool player has since Liddell, and he was at his most prolific in the old Division Two. Dalglish spent the majority of his Anfield career alongside others luminaries, such as Graeme Souness, Ian Rush and Alan Hansen. In the 21st century, the other elite players have come and gone; Gerrard has stayed.

Others have won more in the past but none has played a bigger part in successes, and not just because Gerrard is the only Englishman to have scored in the finals of the Champions League, the Uefa Cup, the FA Cup and the League Cup. As Carragher said on Saturday: “Without Steven Gerrard, I would not have a medal.”

Carragher can be called biased but that shows the scale of Gerrard’s contributions. He was that good. He shouldered that heavy a burden. He captained his hometown club for a dozen, often tumultuous years. John Terry has captained Chelsea for almost as long, but Liverpool’s trials and tribulations meant more responsibility rested with Gerrard; the gulf in class between him and some of his colleagues was larger.

Even in decline, even when deprived of dynamism, they turned to Gerrard in times of need. Even as his performances deteriorated, he threatened to conjure magical moments. He scored with a wonderful free kick against Basel that almost offered a Champions League lifeline. He had a header cleared off the line in the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Aston Villa. He raged at the dying of the light, trying to stamp his authority on the Manchester United game in March and succeeding only in stamping on Ander Herrera.

Greatness comes in part through longevity and loyalty and few have rejected as many chances to desert Liverpool as Gerrard, even when he allowed his head to be turned for a moment. It comes in part in the numbers and, with 185 goals in 709 games, Gerrard has scored more often than the strikers Torres and Suarez did between them and played more matches than Kevin Keegan and Souness’ combined tally. But it also comes through influence and Gerrard’s individual inspiration, his sense of drive and the blockbusting brilliance he displayed at his best propelled him into first place in the pantheon.

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The forward scored three times to take his total for the season to 61 goals as Carlo Ancelotti’s men rounded off the campaign with a ruthless attacking display

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick to win the European Golden Boot as Real Madrid beat Getafe 6-3 in their final league game of the season.

Ronaldo’s eighth treble of the campaign took his tally for the season to 61 goals in all competitions as he took the Pichichi with 48 strikes, seven more than Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.

He was also involved in a moment of history just before the hour mark, when he was replaced by 16-year-old Martin Odegaard, who became Real’s youngest ever Liga debutant.

Ronaldo, whose treble completed his most prolific league season, headed Real in front, but Getafe took a shock lead through superb strikes from Sergio Escudero and Diego Castro.

A Ronaldo free-kick and penalty restored Madrid’s advantage, but the sides went in level at the break as Mehdi Lacen equalised following a corner.

Quickfire goals at the start of the second half from Javier Hernandez and James Rodriguez put the hosts two clear for the first time, before Jese Rodriguez and Marcelo completed the rout.

An entertaining end-of-season affair ensured that if Carlo Ancelotti is to depart the Bernabeu, he will do so on the back of a crowd-pleasing performance.

After a quiet start to proceedings, Madrid went in front in the 13th minute through a familiar source.

Marcelo delivered a teasing cross from the left, and Ronaldo was left unmarked to power a header beyond Jordi Codina and into the far corner of the net.

But if Madrid thought they were in for a straightforward victory, Escudero and Castro demonstrated that the visitors had other ideas.

With 23 minutes gone, Escudero unleashed a rasping left-foot shot from 30 yards that flew past Iker Casillas into the bottom-right corner and, three minutes later, Castro curled a superb finish into the same portion of the goal from just outside the box.

Getafe’s lead lasted just six minutes, however, as Ronaldo took centre stage once more with a fizzing free-kick that curled around the wall and into the bottom-left corner with laser-like accuracy.

And with just 34 minutes on the clock the Portuguese had his hat-trick. Hernandez was bundled to the ground by Carlos Vigaray and Ronaldo made no mistake from the spot, blasting his kick straight down the middle.

Yet as half-time approached back came Getafe, who pulled level once more when Lacen hammered home from eight yards after Real failed to deal with a corner.

The entertainment continued at the start of the second half as Madrid scored twice in the first six minutes.

Hernandez drilled in a rebound after Ronaldo had somehow headed another excellent Marcelo delivery against the woodwork, before Rodriguez curled a stunning free-kick over the wall and into the top-right corner from 25 yards.

The scoring did not stop there, as Jese curled in a sublime finish from the left-hand side of the box after exchanging passes with Rodriguez.

Casillas, who has come in for criticism in recent weeks, was given a rousing ovation by the crowd during a break in play late on and Jese then teed up Marcelo for a simple 90th-minute tap-in as Real took their Liga goals tally to 118 for the campaign.

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Messi strike seals Liga title

Posted: May 18, 2015 in Football

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The Argentine struck the only goal of the game as the Primera Division crown returned to Camp Nou for the first time since 2013

Lionel Messi scored the decisive goal as Barcelona secured the first part of a potential treble by winning La Liga with a 1-0 victory at Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

Barca had looked destined to bring the title back to Catalonia ever since Luis Suarez’s winner against Real Madrid in March, and the Catalans did exactly what was required a year to the day after Atletico won the crown at Camp Nou.

Messi, Suarez and Neymar have led the way for Barca, scoring 79 goals between them in La Liga, and, fittingly, it was the former who sealed the title with a typically clinical finish just after the hour mark.

Suarez missed out due to a hamstring injury picked up in midweek, and Barca were less fluid than usual in attack without the Uruguayan.

But Messi‘s brilliance eventually shone through 25 minutes from time, as he beat Jan Oblak from inside the area after taking a sublime touch from Pedro’s pass for his 54th goal in as many games this season.

Neymar should have doubled Barca’s lead shortly after, but the Brazilian’s wild shot from Messi’s perfect throughball mattered little as Barca wrapped up their seventh title in the last decade, with Copa del Rey and Champions League finals still to come.

Atletico made it clear early on that they would not relinquish their title without a fight, enjoying a particularly bright opening 10 minutes.

But Oblak was called into action to twice deny Messi, before the Argentina captain then grazed the roof of the goal with a free-kick after Diego Godin had brought down Dani Alves.

Alves then went close himself just before the interval, though Oblak confidently turned his speculative long-range drive over.

Atletico began the second period better, and Godin went close to putting the home side ahead in the 51st minute, heading just over following a fine delivery from Koke.

Fernando Torres was the next to try his luck, and the striker forced Claudio Bravo into a crucial save at his near post.

But Barca finally broke the deadlock with 65 minutes on the clock, Messi proving decisive yet again.

The 27-year-old received a pass inside the area from Pedro, coolly dragged the ball past a defender with his first touch and duly stroked it beyond Oblak’s reach through a crowd of players.

The in-form Neymar then uncharacteristically spurned a one-on-one chance that could have put the game – and title – beyond doubt.

Guilherme Siqueira’s long-range effort three minutes from time had Bravo scrambling and Barca hearts in mouths, but the Catalans held on with relative comfort to earn Luis Enrique the title in his first season in charge.