Cristiano Ronaldo was the clear winner of the Best Fifa Men’s 2016 award, completing a hat-trick having already won the Ballon d’Or and Uefa Best Player in Europe Award.
After being handed the Fifa award, the Champions League winner with Real Madrid and Euro 2016 winner with Portugal, Ronaldo said, “2016 was the best year of my career,” and that is undoubtedly true.
A look at Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal-scoring record from the past year (58 goals from 57 appearances for club and country) as well as the quality of the goals leaves no doubt that the award went to the right man.
Here, HT lists Ronaldo’s best goals of 2016:
REAL MADRID v Espanyol; January 31, 2016
Espanyol had been Ronaldo’s favourite opponents in the 2015-16; he scored eight goals against them in two La Liga matches. In this match, he scored a fine hat-trick with the second goal being nothing short of a masterpiece. Getting the ball off a fortunate deflection, Ronaldo ran was up against four defenders with no teammates in support. He cut inside the first defender, slid between the second and third and struck with venom from the edge of the area before the fourth could put in a tackle.
Roma v REAL MADRID; February 17, 2016
Real Madrid had been dominating large portions of the game but could not find the breakthrough. It was the 57th minute when Marcelo played Ronaldo through that made the difference. Ronaldo with a fantastic heel chop at the edge of the box, pulled the ball onto his stronger right foot and curled it towards the far post. A slight deflection off Alessandro Florenzi might have helped loop the ball but it was always destined for the net.
REAL MADRID v Celta Vigo; March 5, 2016
Ronaldo’s four second half goals including a 15-minute hat-trick led Real’s 7-1 demolition of Celta Vigo at the Santiago Bernabeu. And it was certain the star man would produce a moment of brilliance -- he did one better and gave the Bernabeu two stellar goals.
His first goal was magical. He received the ball about 35 yards from goal and the defender backed off thinking the distance was a deterrent. But Ronaldo wrapped his foot around the ball and left fly from distance to well and truly beat the goalkeeper. It was a hallmark of the maxim “give him space and he will punish you”.
The second goal was no short in quality either. A free kick about 25 yards from goal got the typical Ronaldo knuckleball treatment. He went over the wall and curled the ball perfectly into the top corner of the near post.
Hungary v PORTUGAL; June 22, 2016
This was another match in which Ronaldo produced an overall brilliant performance while hitting a milestone. It was the group stages of Euro 2016 and the contest had been a bit of a seesaw. Ronaldo claimed two goals, the first of which helped him become the first ever player to score in four European Championship tournaments. Joao Mario had sent in a low cross from the right wing and Ronaldo improvised with a deft flick of his boot to send the ball into the bottom corner of the far post.
PORTUGAL v Latvia; November 13, 2016
A qualifying match for the 2018 World Cup against Latvia saw Ronaldo notch up two goals. It was his second goal that stood out. Having missed a penalty earlier in the match, Ronaldo would have been itching to atone, which he did in style. He lined up Ricardo Quaresma’s cross perfectly and struck it directly on the volley to send it between the hapless goalkeeper’s feet. It was also his 68 goal for Portugal, taking him to joint fourth on European the list of top international goal scorers.
While a player’s best goals are always noted for their brilliance and technique, some goals are just as important because of the impact they have in a game. A proven match winner, Ronaldo has come up with a few of these in the past year. Here are his biggest game changers:
Barcelona v REAL MADRID; April 2, 2016
Scoring in an El Clasico is always huge but magnified manifold when it is the winner. Add to that, the goal came two minutes after Real Madrid had been reduced to ten men and that it completed Real Madrid’s come-from-behind victory at Camp Nou to end Barcelona’s 39-match unbeaten run in all competitions. Furthermore, it was Ronaldo’s 16th goal in El Clasico matches to take him past Real legend Raul as third-highest goal scorer in the history of the rivalry.
REAL MADRID v Atletico Madrid; May 28, 2016
While it won’t even count as a goal, Cristiano Ronaldo’s conversion in the Champions League final shootout went a long way as the decider. After several injury concerns leading up to the final, the Portuguese striker had little impact during the 120 minutes of action that saw Real take the lead, Atletico equalise and two goalless periods of extra time. But tasked with taking his team’s final penalty, Ronaldo made no mistake as he sent the ball into the net to win the tie.