Anatomy of a goal: Cristiano Ronaldo's 40-yard thunderbolt against Porto

This is one of Ronaldo's most iconic goals
This is one of Ronaldo's most iconic goals / Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

You will be shocked to learn that Cristiano Ronaldo has featured regularly in 90min's Anatomy of a Goal series, honouring some of the best goals ever scored across the globe for posterity.

Given his hundreds of strikes for both club and country, it's not hard to understand why.

Ronaldo's stellar career has been punctuated by incredible goals and stunning individual moments across his time with Sporting CP, Man Utd, Real Madrid, Juventus and on the international stage with Portugal.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo at the Dragao in 2009 / Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

You can peruse some of his other greats here:
His bullet header against Roma
His sublime free kick against Portsmouth
That classic counterattack against Arsenal
His outrageous overhead kick against Liverpool

But today, children, we're going to focus on Ronaldo's bonafide rocket for Manchester United against Porto in the quarter-finals of the 2008/09 Champions League.

This was the Red Devils' first crack at revenge against the Dragoes since José Mourinho's famous sprint down the Old Trafford touchline five years prior, on his way to lifting the famous trophy. Another subplot was that Ronaldo is of course a former Sporting CP player, desperate to get one over on the Portuguese champions for his ex-club.

Porto caused United problems in the first leg / ANDREW YATES/Getty Images

However, things were not looking too rosy for United going into the second leg...

Having slipped to a disappointing 2-2 draw at home courtesy of an 89th-minute Mario Gonzalez equaliser, the holders knew they would need to score and likely win in Porto's daunting Estadio do Dragao in the return match eight days later.

While the odds were already somewhat against them, United's hosts had never lost at home to English opposition at the time and had beaten Arsenal in the group stage that season (yeah, Arsenal played in the Champions League once upon a time).

It would likely require a piece of magic, then, to unlock a stubborn opponent. Enter, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo was out for revenge in the second leg / Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Collecting an outside-of-the-boot pass from former Porto starlet Anderson midway inside enemy territory, Ronaldo opened up his body and looked set to drive forward in typically combative fashion.

Hang on a he shifting the ball out of his feet?!

In a moment reminiscent of that one person at five-a-side who will shoot from his own half, 40 yards out, Ronaldo put his head down and his iconic right red Nike Mercurial through the adidas Star Ball to send it soaring through the night sky.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Thumpppp / MIGUEL RIOPA/Getty Images

Surely not. Cristiano you tw**. Pass it! What on earth are you doi...

The net ripples as the home support behind the goal watch on stunned, and the travelling faithful go into raptures in the heavens.


The ludicrous shot was clocked at 64.2mph - not quite faster than a speeding bullet, but close enough.

Back on Portuguese soil, Ronaldo had produced an absolute screamer to make it 1-0 and bag a crucial away goal for his side. A moment of pure audacity that caught everyone cold. United would hold on for the tetchy 1-0 win to progress to the semi-finals where they would triumph over Arsenal, before ultimately falling to Barcelona and Lionel Messi in the final.

Ronaldo's bolt from the blue would go on to win the inaugural Puskas Award, and that is probably fair enough.

Disclaimer: Yes, we know; the old cliché 'it's at a good height for a goalkeeper' rings true here, with trackie-bottomed stopper Helton reacting weirdly late and getting absolutely nowhere near the ball, but - to use another cliché - 'take nothing away from the strike'.

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