Rio Ferdinand has called Cristiano Ronaldo a “living football god” after the Juventus man netted a sensational hat-trick against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.
Down 2-0 after the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, Ronaldo scored three times to seal an incredible 3-0 win in the second leg at Allianz Stadium, reaching the quarter-final via a 3-2 aggregate score.
The Portuguese star netted a first-half header to halve his side’s deficit, before levelling the tie with another header in the second half and then scoring an 86th-minute penalty to complete the comeback.
Ronaldo has now matched Lionel Messi’s Champions League hat-trick record with his eighth treble in the competition.
Speaking on BT Sport after the game, Ferdinand couldn’t help but gush over the 34-year-old’s performance.
“He is a living football god, it is ridiculous what he is doing,” Ferdinand said.
“In the Champions League he has every record you could imagine. He’s the joint-hat-trick man with Messi.
“The first goal is like Duncan Ferguson in his prime, attacking the ball, leaving the full-back in a heap and saying: ‘This is me’. That is called desire.
“This is against an Atletico Madrid team which is known for having an unbelievable defence.
“And they’ve gone and scored three goals and he’s got a hat-trick.”
Ronaldo had experienced a quiet Champions League campaign before Tuesday night, having scored just once in six total appearances.
But Tuesday saw the Champions League’s all-time top scorer back to his best, as he dragged his new side into the competition’s last eight.
Juve will be joined in the last-8 by Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Ajax and Porto, who have all booked their places in the quarter-finals.
Either Liverpool or Bayern Munich will also be moving on, with the second leg of their last-16 tie set for Wednesday along with Barcelona and Lyon. Both of those contests are finely poised at 0-0 after the first leg.
Juve return to action Sunday against Genoa in Serie A action, where they hold a commanding lead at the top of the league table.