(Reuters) – It was not one of his more brilliant nights but Cristiano Ronaldo managed to shake off the Malmo defence to score twice and edge closer to becoming Real Madrid’s greatest goal-poacher on Wednesday.
Having netted his 81st and 82nd Champions League goals against the Swedish side, Ronaldo is now tied with Raul as the club’s top scorer of all time with 323 goals.
“I am so happy and proud to beat the record for Real Madrid, it’s fantastic,” Ronaldo told broadcaster Viasat.
“The most important thing is to win. Six points, we are top of the group.”
Well-shackled for most of the night by the dogged Malmo defence, Ronaldo only sporadically lit up the Swedish night with his brilliance. Thankfully for Madrid, it was enough to secure all three points and take them to the top of Group A.
“It says something about how good he is,” said Malmo defender Anton Tinnerholm, who had most of the responsibility for marking Ronaldo.
“Even when he has a bad day, he can still decide games.”
Coach Rafael Benitez did not want to be drawn into the debate about who is the greatest goalscorer in Madrid’s history, but Ronaldo’s speed in catching Raul’s mark leaves little doubt.
“That’s a question for others to answer, but I’m very happy that the team won, that we kept a clean sheet, that we took three points, that Ronaldo scored two goals and (equalled) a record,” he told a news conference.
“We have seen many great goalscorers in history but he managed to do it in less games.”
It has taken the Portuguese phenomenon just 308 games to rival Raul’s haul of 323 strikes, a jaw-dropping ratio of goals per game.
It could have been more when the Malmo defence, reduced to 10 men after the sending off of Yoshimar Yotun, tired.
But Malmo goalkeeper Johan Wiland stood firm, prompting Ronaldo to have a word with him after the final whistle.
“He came up to me after the game and asked ‘why did you keep saving my shots?’ He wanted to score a hat-trick,” Wiland told reporters.
“In reply, I asked him why he kept scoring goals against me. Then we laughed and hugged.”
Wiland is not the first goalkeeper to have asked Ronaldo that question, and he most likely won’t be the last.
(By Philip O’Connor, Additional reporting by Johan Ahlander; Editing by Rex Gowar)