By Salawudeen Olawale
Cristiano Ronaldo asked for immunity from the boos of the ever-demanding Santiago Bernabeu crowd after his hat-trick against Bayern Munich on Tuesday fired Real Madrid into the semifinals of the Champions League for a seventh consecutive season.
Ronaldo’s double in Munich had given Real a 2-1 lead in the first leg and after a couple of wayward shots in the first half had provoked whistles from the home supporters, the prolific Portuguese proved the difference in an eventual 4-2 win over Bayern after extra-time, setting up a 6-3 aggregate victory.
His header cancelled out Robert Lewandowski’s goal late in the second half and he then finished off Bayern with strikes in either half of extra-time after Sergio Ramos’ own goal had levelled the scores on aggregate, although his last two goals were from offside positions.
His third goal of the night and fifth of the tie saw him become the first player to reach 100 goals in the Champions League, and the four-times World Player of the Year put his finger to his lips to the supporters who had booed him earlier.
“I’m not asking them to name streets after me, the only thing I ask is that they don’t boo me here,” Ronaldo told Spanish TV station Antena 3.
“I want them to stop booing me because I always give my best and even when I don’t score I try to help Real Madrid.”
Manager Zinedine Zidane lavished praise on the team’s all-time top scorer but reminded Ronaldo that Real players had to get used to the relentless pressure from supporters of the 11-time European champions.
“Perhaps the fans won’t boo him any more, but this is the Bernabeu and it can happen from time to time and he knows that,” said the former France captain.
“The only thing he did was to stay calm and he proved himself on the pitch. There are few players that are always there in the key moments, and the fans will be grateful for what Cristiano has done here.
“He always knows that when there’s an important occasion, he’s going to be there and he showed it again tonight. What he did is outside any sort of category. There are few players who can do what Ronaldo has done and we all know that.”