Cristiano Ronaldo single-handedly brought Juventus back from the dead in stunning Champions League win over Atletico Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo beats Atletico MadridPhoto by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty ImagesCristiano Ronaldo.Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images

Before a ball had even been kicked in Tuesday's critical UEFA Champions League match, Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly promised friends and family that he would score three goals and send Juventus into the quarter-final stage of the competition.

Anything less may not have been enough. Last month, in the Round of 16 first leg against Atletico Madrid, Juventus lost 2-0, surrendering the advantage to the Spanish team.

The Atleti defenders Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin scored a goal each and kept the rearguard tight enough to frustrate Juventus all night long. Even Ronaldo, who has thrived in the big games in Europe over the years, left the field with no goals having taken seven shots. The defeat in February left Juventus with it all to do in the second leg, on Tuesday.

Ronaldo even attracted media scrutiny in the build-up to the game. The Independent said "Cristiano Ronaldo's powers are in retreat," the Italy national soccer team coach Roberto Mancini said he "isn't doing in the Champions League what he's done in the past," and Business Insider even put together five charts that showed how truly awful the 34-year-old had been this season when compared to his incredible performance-level in previous years.

Read more: 5 charts that show how truly awful Cristiano Ronaldo has been in the Champions League this year

But Ronaldo shrugged off the criticisms and produced his best game of the season. He scored either side of the half and provided a constant attacking threat against a seemingly wilting Atletico side.

This was Ronaldo at his best. He played with pace, with attitude, and leaped high into the air to power an incredible header into the net to score the first of the night in the 27th minute of the knockout match.

Watch the goal right here:

 

He grabbed his second shortly after half-time, in the 49th minute, when another header was ruled to have gone over the line. The Juventus fans went apoplectic in the crowd as Ronaldo, their $125 million signing from last summer and the man the club bought specifically to win games just like this, single-handedly brought the team back from the brink of defeat, and was just one goal away from securing a stunning victory.

That third and final goal arrived in the 86th minute when Juventus was awarded a late penalty. And there was only one man who would take the kick.

Ronaldo stepped-up to the spot, and kept his cool as he frequently did over the years as he rifled the winning goal into the bottom left hand corner of the goal. 3-0 - job done. He even made it look easy.

Watch the penalty right here:

More to follow…

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