Lionel Messi has praised Cristiano Ronaldo for that dramatic hat-trick which turned around the tie for Juventus against Atletico Madrid.
Barcelona and Real Madrid attracted a wealth of supporters over the last decade. It is the second most watched football rivalry in the world after the cut-throat English rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United. The reason for the stupendous rise in viewers is down to two men – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The current Barcelona and Juventus forward have taken their sides to the last eight of the Champions League with their succored skill. Lionel Messi scored twice and set up once in the 5-1 win over Lyon at Camp Nou, whereas, Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick to overcome an extraordinary side in Atletico Madrid.
Alongside Sadio Mane and Leroy Sane, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have been shortlisted for the Champions League Player of the Week award. Sadio Mane and Leroy Sane scored a brace to aid their sides.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) March 13, 2019
Ronaldo on Tuesday: 3 goals
Messi on Wednesday: 2 goals, 2 assists
They took over when it mattered most. pic.twitter.com/6TDNnmCSJ5
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 13, 2019
The Blaugrana brought a draw to their home stadium and had the equation to only win the game. On the other hand, Cristiano Ronaldo had a task cut out to beat Atletico Madrid by three goals to keep their Champions League hopes alive.
LIONEL MESSI ON CRISTIANO RONALDO’S PERFORMANCE AGAINST ATLETICO MADRID:
In the post-match interview, the Argentine spoke to the press “What Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus did was impressive,” the forward said after the match.
“I thought Atletico Madrid would be tougher. Ronaldo had a magical night with three goals.”
It was an exceptional night for everybody involved with Juventus and Lionel Messi’s acknowledgment does not come as a surprise for anybody. It was a tough equation, but the Portuguese International had called his family to attend the game because he said that a hat-trick was on the cards for him.
Lionel Messi on Cristiano Ronaldo: “What Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus did was impressive. I thought Atletico Madrid would be tougher but Ronaldo had a magical night with three goals.” pic.twitter.com/wbCCIsgvZV
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) March 14, 2019
From the inception of the game, the Old Lady started on the front foot and gave a headache to Diego Simeone’s men. However, they broke the deadlock when Federico Bernadeschi’s exceptional cross found Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese International headed the ball inside the back of the net after a first-rate leap over the defender to lead the game.
For the rest of the first half, Atletico Madrid had control of the game and decided to sit back in the second part of the game. Joao Cancelo’s cross found Cristiano Ronaldo again. The former Real Madrid forward took full advantage of it to level parity in the aggregate score.
The pressure succumbed for Diego Simeone’s men who conceded a penalty in the 83rd minute of the game. Federico Bernadeschi, who was arguably on par with Cristiano Ronaldo with that stellar performance, ran away from his half to Atletico Madrid’s half before being tripped down by Angel Correa inside the box.
Carlo Ancelotti on Cristiano Ronaldo: “Everyone is waiting for his performances to drop, but they never do.”
“He makes the difference. There are great players who struggle in big games. He comes to life. That is the difference between a great player & a champion, like him.” pic.twitter.com/19LAH9TzDd
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) March 14, 2019
Cristiano Ronaldo took the penalty and converted it to lead the tie for the first time. In the post-match interview, the Portuguese International said that was it was a special night for the whole squad.
“It was always going to be a special night and it was, not only for the goals, but for the team,”
“This is the mentality of champions, this is the journey to follow, we enjoyed a magical night. Atletico were a difficult team, but we were strong too. We will see what will happen.” said Ronaldo.
With that hat-trick, he took his overall tally to 52 and equalized Lionel Messi’s eight hat-trick in the Champions League.
Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Ajax, and Porto are the clubs which will join Barcelona and Juventus in the next round.
Having won the competition five times in his joy-filled career, he will be looking to end Juventus’ European title drought for the first time since 1996.