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5 Feb, 2021 20:10

Happy birthday, Cristiano Ronaldo: As he hits 36, here are 6 of the football superstar’s most memorable strikes from the past year

Happy birthday, Cristiano Ronaldo: As he hits 36, here are 6 of the football superstar’s most memorable strikes from the past year

Cristiano Ronaldo often resembles a man determined to permanently defy the ageing process, and his goals since his last birthday have not betrayed any signs of slowing down. From Catalonia to Stockholm, here are six to remember.

SPAL 1-2 Juventus, February 22 2020

Ronaldo scored in every match he played from December 2019 until February 2020. Eleven defenses fell during that formidable run, which included braces against Udinese, Parma and Fiorentina and a hat-trick against Cagliari.

The goal with which he equaled the Serie A record for goals in consecutive games, held by Gabriel Batistuta and Fabio Quagliarella, was an unspectacular one - a well-timed close-range finish from a cross in a 2-1 win at SPAL.

Frustratingly for a forward who cherishes setting new standards, his streak ended at home to Inter Milan in the match that followed. He did, nevertheless, set up a goal in that 2-0 win and score in his next six appearances, netting a total of seven times and providing three assists along the way.

Genoa 1-3 Juventus, June 30

What a goal this was. Paulo Dybala had broken Genoa's resistance five minutes after half-time, and the hosts then unwisely gave Ronaldo ample space just inside their own half on the left.

With three defenders seemingly more intent on reaching their own penalty area than closing him down, their tormentor arrowed forward, sized up his angle and hammered an unstoppable shot into the far corner of the net from a central position well outside the penalty area.

In an empty stadium, the sound of the shot resembled a cannon being fired, adding to the explosive effect of Ronaldo's rasper.

Juventus 4-1 Torino, July 4

No player had managed 25 goals for Juventus in Serie A since 1961 before Ronaldo curled in a classic free-kick in the Turin derby.

Somewhat poetically, the set-piece sorcerer swung the stunning strike beyond the stranded Salvatore Sirigu in the 61st minute, hit from slightly to the left of center in a position familiar to anyone who has watched his mathematical precision and venom from dead balls over the years.

Curiously, this was also the first free-kick Ronaldo had scored for Juventus, requiring 43 attempts to do so. At the other end, Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon made a record-breaking 648th Serie A appearance - but the highlights reel was all about Ronaldo.

Juventus 2-1 Lyon, August 7

This was one of those performances when Ronaldo gritted his teeth and dragged his side to a comeback win.

Lyon were already 1-0 up from the Champions League round of 16 first leg when they took an early lead in Turin, only for Ronaldo to equalize from the penalty spot shortly before the break and, on the hour mark, score a remarkable goal out of seemingly nothing.

Turning well outside the penalty area on the right, he prodded the ball a few steps forward in front of several defenders before blasting a dipping, low effort beyond Anthony Lopes at his near post. The keeper was beaten by the shot's violent velocity, which seemed impossible to create given the lack of momentum the ball had when Ronaldo struck it.

Juventus went out on away goals, leaving Ronaldo in his established role as lonely hero after going out in the first knockout stage yet again.

Sweden 0-2 Portugal, September 8

Sweden would have been hoping that Ronaldo would remain sidelined by the toe injury that kept him out of Portugal's previous encounter when they faced him in the Nations League.

Sadly for the side he has scored seven international goals against, their nemesis returned to the stadium where he scored a hat-trick in 2014 World Cup qualifying and opened the scoring with a near-identical free-kick to the one he swept in against Torino.

Not content to call it a night with his 100th international goal, Ronaldo added another superb strike in the second half, looping a shot into the far corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area.

Barcelona 0-3 Juventus, December 8

Ronaldo removed a rare unwanted record with this comprehensive win that sealed top spot in Group G for Juventus.

Lionel Messi's arch-rival had never scored against a team containing the Barca icon and, in what could have been the last on-pitch meeting between the two, Ronaldo scored penalties in either half to put that right and worsen worries around Barca's uncertain form this season.

Juve themselves are a way off the top of Serie A under Andrea Pirlo, making this arguably the best result of the new boss's inconsistent early reign, which had included a 2-0 home defeat to Barcelona in the reverse fixture in October.

Also on rt.com Brrr-onaldo! Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his 36th birthday in a winter wonderland with partner Georgina Rodriguez (VIDEO)