Ron­aldo rev­els in prais­ing him­self

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS | SOCCER - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE

Cris­tiano Ron­aldo said he had an­swered his crit­ics in style as he rounded off a “spec­tac­u­lar” year with a hat­trick to win the Club World Cup for Real Madrid and add to his mul­ti­tude of ti­tles.

Af­ter his hero­ics floored Ja­pan’s Kashima Antlers 4-2 in ex­tra time on Sun­day, the Por­tuguese su­per­star summed up a re­mark­able sea­son in which he also lifted the Cham­pi­ons League, Su­per Cup, Euro 2016 and Bal­lon d’Or tro­phies.

“They al­ways ex­pect more of Cris­tiano,” said Ron­aldo.

“It’s been a week full of joy af­ter win­ning the Bal­lon d’Or too. I thank my team­mates be­cause with­out them Cris­tiano couldn’t win these in­di­vid­ual awards.”

Ron­aldo showed why he was voted the world’s best player for a fourth time last week, but there were mo­ments of the self-in­dul­gence that makes him such a po­lar­iz­ing fig­ure.

In the first half, he even tripped him­self up as he at­tempted one of his trade­mark stepovers.

But as a tense fi­nal went into the ex­tra pe­riod, Real’s su­per­star pounced twice to bring the Span­ish giant a sec­ond world ti­tle in three years and fifth in to­tal.

It capped an as­ton­ish­ing year in which Ron­aldo helped

They al­ways ex­pect more of Cris­tiano. Peo­ple crit­i­cize me of­ten, but I’m used to it.” Cris­tiano Ron­aldo

Real be­come cham­pion of Europe for an 11th time, added a Su­per Cup and led Por­tu­gal to a stun­ning Euro­pean cham­pi­onship tri­umph.

“The stats don’t lie, as al­ways,” boasted the player of the tour­na­ment, re­fer­ring to last week’s Bal­lon d’Or award, which put him one be­hind fierce ri­val Lionel Messi’s record five.

“Peo­ple crit­i­cize me of­ten, but I’m used to it,” added the 31-year-old, who scored his 500th ca­reer club goal in Madrid’s 2-0 semi­fi­nal win over Mex­ico’s Club Amer­ica.

“I’ve shown my qual­ity on the pitch for many years and I had a spec­tac­u­lar sea­son for Real Madrid and Por­tu­gal.”

Video nasty

His preen­ing style and pouty so­cial-me­dia pho­tos show­ing off his six-pack can grate, but Ron­aldo is pure box of­fice.

A crowd of 68,000 in Yoko­hama mar­veled at his show­boat­ing, even if his team­mates weren’t so en­thralled.

It was in­evitable at a tour­na­ment where FIFA tri­aled video ref­er­ees for the first time in of­fi­cial com­pe­ti­tion that Ron­aldo was cen­tral to that plot­line, too.

When his semi­fi­nal strike was briefly re­viewed — by ac­ci­dent, af­ter a video of­fi­cial in­ad­ver­tently kept his fin­ger on the in­ter­com but­ton to alert the ref­eree to a pos­si­ble off­side — Ron­aldo’s face turned to thun­der.

Mo­ments later, he was grin­ning broadly, or­der re­stored as the ref­eree con­firmed his 377 th goal in 366 games for Real — now 380 in 367.

Af­ter its tir­ing trip to Ja­pan, La Liga leader Real fi­nally gets some time off be­fore it hosts Granada on Jan 7.

But as Real sa­vored an­other piece of sil­ver­ware, dis­grun­tled for­ward James Ro­driguez faced a gloomy re­turn flight on Mon­day.

Ro­driguez, who has strug­gled for starts in coach Zine­dine Zi­dane’s team, hinted at leav­ing in the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow.

But cap­tain Ser­gio Ramos had a blunt mes­sage for the Colom­bian: “To­day was a day to be happy and sat­is­fied, not to fo­cus on other mat­ters.”

KIM KYUNG-HOON /REUTERS

Cris­tiano Ron­aldo poses with the Golden Ball tro­phy af­ter his hat-trick helped Real Madrid over­come the Kashima Antlers 4-2 af­ter ex­tra time in Sun­day’s FIFA Club World Cup fi­nal at In­ter­na­tional Sta­dium in Yoko­hama, Ja­pan.

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