Portugese striker Ronaldo went down in history as the all-time top scorer after his hat-trick brought a 3-2 victory to Manchester United against Tottenham.
Ralf Rangnick admitted managing Cristiano Ronaldo is "challenging" after the 37-year-old rolled back the years with a hat-trick to beat Tottenham 3-2 and keep Manchester United's chances of playing in the Champions League next season alive.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner scored just once in his previous 10 games, but three fantastic finishes took him clear as the highest scorer in professional men's football history according to FIFA's records with 807 goals for club and country.
Ronaldo's second spell at Old Trafford has so far proven to be an anti-climax with his poor form sparking debate over whether his skills are waning.
He missed United's thrashing in the Manchester derby last weekend and was criticised for a perceived lack of commitment as he jetted off to Portugal to rehab a hip injury rather than watch his teammates lose 4-1 at the Etihad after reports he would have been dropped by Rangnick even if fit.
OUT. OF. THIS. WORLD. 🚀— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 12, 2022
☄️ @Cristiano #MUFC | #MUNTOT pic.twitter.com/OQ93EZtXnd
"It is challenging with players like him but he showed today he still has the quality to play for Manchester United," said Rangnick. "He's part of the team and if we want to be successful we have to do it together."
"Today it was his best performance, at least since I arrived. Not only because he scored three goals, but he was also energetically good today and part of the whole team when we had to defend. A top performance by him, but also the rest of the team."
The victory lifts United back into fourth place, although they are just two points ahead of Arsenal who have four games in hand.
A fifth defeat in eight league games is another blow to Tottenham's hopes of a top-four finish as they remain seventh, now five points behind United.
"It’s difficult to explain this loss," said Spurs manager Antonio Conte. "I think we didn’t deserve to lose, but at the same time we need to understand how we can improve."
GOAT of soccer?
The 37-year-old attacker, who was not included in the starting 11 in the previous league game, scored 15 goals in 30 games this season.
Five-times-Ballon D'or winner won five UEFA Champions League titles, in 2008 with Manchester United, in 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 with Real Madrid, three Premier League titles with Manchester United in 2007, 2008, 2009 and two La Liga trophies with Real Madrid in 2012 and 2017 throughout his astonishing career.
Ronaldo also won the 2016 European Championship with Portugal.
Manchester United are in fourth place with 50 points, 19 points behind league-leading rivals Manchester City. Tottenham Hotspur are in the 7th spot with 45 points in the Premier League standings.
🐐 x 🐐 @Cristiano 🤝 @TomBrady #MUFC pic.twitter.com/GFTkJ8B84W— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 12, 2022
Tom Brady, admitted the Greatest of All Time in American football, picked the perfect moment to come to Old Trafford to witness a rarity from Cristiano Ronaldo: A Manchester United hat trick.
Ronaldo was able to savour the acclaim of the crowd after being substituted moments after the 81st-minute winner, with Brady among those providing a standing ovation.
And then the GOAT made it down to the field to exchange post-match thoughts with perhaps the Premier League's “Greatest of All Time.”