Cristiano Ronaldo’s incredible Champions League stats since he left Man United after heartbreak in Rome
Cristiano Ronaldo suffered an incredibly painful heartbreak the last time he wore a Manchester United shirt in European competition.
The Portuguese had once again lit up the Champions League in 2008-09, including a stellar performance in the second leg semi-final at Arsenal ahead of Sir Alex Ferguson.
He scored a long-range free kick past a suspect Manuel Almunia before finishing a stunning breakaway move that put the equalizing goal in good and real against Arsene Wenger’s men to bed.
Cristiano Ronaldo suffered heartbreak in Champions League final the last time he donned a Manchester United shirt in Europe
He excelled in the 2008-09 season, scoring twice in the semi-final win against Arsenal
Since then, he has reached the stratosphere and won four Champions League titles
RONALDO’S CHAMPIONS LEAGUE RECORD SINCE LEAVING UNITED
Games played: 124
Games won: 86
Drawn games: 20
Games lost : 18
*statistics provided by Opta
But he was eventually outdone by his future nemesis Lionel Messi in Rome when Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona won the 2009 Champions League final 2-0, including a brilliant header from the Argentine.
It is to this day the only Champions League final he has lost, and the defeat came just 12 months after a Ronaldo-inspired United won their first Champions League crown since 1999, by fellow Premier League outfit Chelsea to beat on penalties in Russia.
In that 2007-08 season, Ronaldo delivered his best goal-scoring return in Europe for United, scoring seven to take them to Moscow before going into the opener against the Blues in the first half.
The euphoria that would follow for the Manchester red half that evening – despite Ronaldo’s miss from the spot in the shootout – has not been matched since.
The closest they’ve come since that win is the Rome final and another painful defeat in a Champions League final against the Catalan team at Wembley two years later.
But the swagger and feel-good factor certainly made a return to Old Trafford on Ronaldo’s stunning second home debut for United over the weekend, leaving fans salivating at the prospect of what he might do on his second European arc for the club.
The Portuguese scored a goal in each half – efforts that gave Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men a 1-0, 2-1 lead – against Newcastle as fans chanted ‘Viva Ronaldo’ in the Stretford End.
Lionel Messi surpassed Ronaldo in his last United appearance in Europe and scored in Rome
That match came just 12 months after he tasted success in Moscow against Chelsea
UNITED’S CHAMPIONS LEAGUE RECORD SINCE 2009-10
Games played: 77
Games won: 41
Drawn games: 15
Lost matches: 21
Goals Scored: 124
Goals against: 78
Top scorer: Wayne Rooney (15)
Statistics provided by Opta
There was more than an air of positivity around the club leading up to the game and the 90 minutes itself, and now one of the Champions League’s great stars for over a decade will now be testing himself again in that competition.
The 36-year-old has scored 16 goals in 55 Champions League appearances during his first stint at Old Trafford, and he will now look to increase that number when United face Swiss team Young Boys on Tuesday night.
He will equal the record of 177 Champions League appearances of former Madrid team-mate and legendary ex-Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas when he plays in Bern in United’s first Group F game.
But there are far more impressive stats from Opta showing how far he has definitively set the standard in the league since he left Old Trafford.
Ronaldo has scored an incredible 119 goals for Real Madrid and Juventus combined since his mega-money move to the Spanish giants in 2009 in just 124 games.
The Portugal international is therefore unrivaled when it comes to goals in the Champions League since that 2009 final, with Lionel Messi 16 behind 103. Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski is a further 30 short of the Argentine.
Karim Benzema and Thomas Muller make up the top five, but the stars of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have scored a relatively modest 59 and 47 goals in the Champions League since the start of the 2009-10 season.
There has therefore been an unbelievably large gap of more than 100 goals between Ronaldo and his closest rival United for goals in the Champions League since his departure.
But Ronaldo is aiming for more success after making his second United arc this weekend
He scored a total of 119 Champions League goals for Real Madrid and Juventus combined
Wayne Rooney, the Portuguese’s former team-mate and United’s record scorer, is the club’s highest scorer in the Champions League during this period, but scored just 15 goals in that time before his departure in 2017.
However, current United striker Edinson Cavani has scored 35 goals since the 2009-10 Champions League season, but they all came for Serie A outfit Napoli and PSG.
Ronaldo’s dominance in the league is such that United as a club have only scored five more goals than their returning Champions League star since 2009 – 124 to be exact – and they have won nine fewer games than him in that span.
The 36-year-old, meanwhile, enjoyed massive European success over the previous decade, winning four Champions League titles while playing under Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane for LaLiga giants Madrid.
But it’s his return to the goal that was just mesmerizing. Add to that 31 assists and the fact that he has only lost 18 times – three less than United in the same period – it is easy to see why people like Gary Neville believe he is the best player ever.
United have since competed in the Champions League in 10 of their 12 seasons, winning 41 of their 77 games in Europe’s premier club competition.
That total puts him 16 clear of Messi (right) as the player with the most Champions League goals since he left United
His greatest European success came with the Spanish giants, who won the trophy four times
The club has fallen from the Europa League after finishing outside the top two three times in the group stage of the Champions League, and qualifying twice for the group stage of the second-tier European competition.
The most recent case of the former was last season, when they suffered a 3-2 blowback from RB Leipzig on the final day of play to finish among the Bundesliga outfit and eventual semi-finalists Paris Saint-Germain in Group H.
This boosted their Europa League record last season and reached the final before Villarreal lost a penalty shootout in Gdansk.
But their most successful run in the competition was when they qualified directly for it. They went all the way from the group stage to the final in 2016-17, beating Ajax to win what remains their latest piece of silverware.
The club’s overall record in that competition since Ronaldo’s departure includes 25 wins in 44 games, 82 goals scored – with Bruno Fernandes as the top scorer with eight – reached two finals and won one trophy.
But if his pre-match speech in Newcastle is anything, Ronaldo has no intention of playing in the Europa League at Old Trafford for the first time.
The Portuguese gave a rousing speech last weekend ahead of his second United debut, in which he reportedly said: “I have returned to Man United for two reasons.
“The first is because I love the club. The second is that I like the winning mentality that comes through the ranks of this club.
“I didn’t come back to be a cheerleader. If you want to succeed, I want you to love this club from the bottom of your heart.
“You have to eat, sleep and fight for this club. Whether you play or not play, you have to support your teammates and always give 100 percent for the club.
“I’m here to win and for nothing else. Winning brings us happiness. I want to be happy, do you?’
The comments show a clear winner’s mentality, which he has not better demonstrated that he wants to be part of a party that once again dominates European competition.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has claimed this week that United can rule Europe after the arrival of Ronaldo and central defender Raphael Varane.
United, meanwhile, has struggled relatively, with their 2011 defeat to Barcelona the closest to success since Ronaldo’s departure.
United were eliminated in the group stage on the last day of that round last year
“We get the backbone of the team and you can see the experience and quality,” said Solskjaer.
“Of course, now that Raphael and Cristiano come in, they’re adding the latter… not the latter, you can never say it’s the latter. It’s something extra we have to buy unless you win it yourself four times.
“That was always the plan when I came in, that we had to challenge a team with experience and quality. The atmosphere is really good and we will certainly come in handy there.’
And with Ronaldo’s record exposed compared to United’s, it’s clear they have a much better chance of hitting that target now that the Portuguese are back in their ranks and ready to leave.