By Charlie Scott
Cristiano Ronaldo enjoyed a fabulous year for both Real Madrid and Portugal, and his sublime performances over the past 12 months have resulted in him winning the Goal.com 50 award.
At club level, he inspired Real Madrid to their first Liga title in four years, while, for Portugal at Euro 2012, he produced the kind of performances against Netherlands and Czech Republic that will live long in the memory of those who witnessed them.
Without further adieu, Goal.com counts down the 10 moments that defined the Portuguese star's season, that led to him eventually winning the prestigious prize ahead of the likes of Lionel Messi and Iker Casillas.
|10. MADRID DERBY DOMINANCE I
Ronaldo netted two penalties in the first Madrid derby of the season on November 26, to make it 13 wins in a row for Jose Mourinho's side, and stretch their unbeaten run over rivals Atletico to an astonishing 21 matches, spanning a period of 12 years.
It was a Ronaldo performance that was about far more than just the two goals he scored. It was his desire and team-work that really stood out. The assist he provided for Angel Di Maria to give Madrid a 2-1 lead was a thing of beauty, as was the exquisite one-two he played with Gonzalo Higuain that won the second penalty he then dispatched to make it 4-1 late on.
A marvellous all-round display.
|9. INSPIRATIONAL IN LYON
The attacker showed his set-piece prowess by scoring twice from dead-ball situations against Lyon in the Champions League on November 2 to send Madrid into the knockout stages, and also reach the 100-goal mark in all competitions for Los Merengues.
Ronaldo achieved the feat in just 105 matches, giving him a strike rate of 0.95 goals per game since joining the club from Manchester United in 2009. The first of his goals was a trademark free-kick midway through the first half, while the second was a confidently-dispatched penalty after the break.
|8. REACHES LA LIGA CENTURY IN RECORD TIME
By scoring two goals against Real Sociedad in March, Ronaldo became the quickest Real Madrid player to score 100 goals in La Liga, reaching the milestone in just 92 appearances for the club, 13 quicker than the previous record of 105 matches set by Madrid legend Ferenc Puskas in the 1960s.
Ronaldo's double not only achieved this individual record, it also spurred Madrid on to a much-needed victory that retained a six-point lead at the top of La Liga, which had come under threat from Barcelona following two consecutive draws for Mourinho's side.
|7. DECISIVE DOUBLE AT THE BENITO VILAMARIN
Ronaldo showed his ability to score when it really mattered by netting two vital goals in the second-half of a hard-fought match away to Real Betis in March.
With the score tied at 1-1 early in the second half, Ronaldo supplied an instinctive finish to round off a fine team move and give his side the lead. It was short-lived though, as Jefferson Montero equalised in the 55th minute, but the Portuguese attacker was on hand to produce the match-winner late on to snatch all three points and put his side provisionally 13 points clear of Barcelona at the top of La Liga.
|6. FIRES HOME MADRID'S 4000TH BERNABEU GOAL
Ronaldo's superb hat-trick on February 12, his thirteenth in La Liga and fourteenth for the club, left Levante in shock and secured his side a crucial 4-2 victory that maintained their 10-point lead over Barcelona at the league summit.
The third of his goals, a driven effort from distance, also had greater historical significance, as it was the club's 4000th La Liga goal inside the Santiago Bernabeu since its opening in December 1947.
|5. PUTS REPUBLIC IN CZECH-MATE
The attacker produced a stunning display for his country against Czech Republic in the Euro 2012 quarter-final, hitting the woodwork twice before finally breaking the deadlock with a thumping header. His goal proved decisive, as Portugal emerged 1-0 victors, thereby securing a spot in the semi-finals.
The performance was given greater stature as it came just days after he had destroyed Netherlands almost single-handedly in Portugal's final group game. Many had questioned his desire in a Portugal shirt after a disappointing start to the tournament, but even his most stringent of critics could not deny his supremacy over the course of this quarter-final match.
|4. MADRID DERBY DOMINANCE II
With Barcelona breathing down their necks in La Liga, Madrid needed a win against their rivals Atletico at the Vicente Calderon, and thanks to Ronaldo they got one - in style.
The Portuguese forward was untouchable during the match, opening the scoring with an outrageous swerving free-kick to take his tally for the season to 50 in all competitions, before adding a fine second from distance in the 68th minute. He completed his hat-trick late on, stepping up to coolly slot home a penalty after Gonzalo Higuain had been fouled inside the area.
The emphatic win kept Madrid four points clear of Pep Guardiola's Barcelona at the top of La Liga, with just 10 days to go until their crucial Clasico clash.
|3. COMPLETES LIGA GOALSCORING ROUT
On the final matchday of the league season, Ronaldo scored against Mallorca to put his side on their way to victory and establish yet another individual record. His headed finish against Joaquin Caparros' side meant he had become the first player to score against all 19 Primera Division teams over the course of a single league season.
It also ensured the club finished the season in style, as the three points took them to 100 for the campaign, surpassing the previous record of 99 set by Barcelona in 2009-10.
|2. DOUBLE DUTCH DESTRUCTION
In the Seleccao’s final Euro 2012 group game against Netherlands, when they needed him most, Ronaldo ran the show, scoring twice, hitting the post twice, and causing absolute havoc, in what was arguably his finest performance in a Portugal shirt.
Bert van Marwijk's side could not cope with the pace, power and poise that characterised a scintillating display from the Portuguese star that reaped two fine goals either side of half-time. Netherlands could do nothing to stop Ronaldo, as he hauled his side out of the so-called 'Group of Death' to set up a quarter-final date with Czech Republic.
|1. SILENCES CAMP NOU
In the most important game of Madrid's season it was fitting that their brightest star would prove the difference.
Ronaldo's firm effort in the 73rd minute of El Clasico at the end of April sealed all three points for Los Merengues against their bitter rivals Barcelona - on their own turf at Camp Nou. The attacker latched on to a scything pass from Mesut Ozil before firing past Victor Valdes and into the back of the net.
The win represented a colossal step towards the league title for Madrid as it extended their lead at the top to seven points with just four games left to play. Madrid would go on to increase the gap to nine points by the season's close, but the moment people across the world will remember for years to come is that vital finish in April at Camp Nou.