Cristiano Ronaldo set another benchmark in the Champions League as Real Madrid thrashed Apoel Nicosa by 6-0 in the group stages.
32-year old Ronaldo scored twice in the second half to raise his tally to 18 Champions League goals in 2017 — the most scored by any player in the tournament within a calendar year.
A 3-1 defeat by Tottenham had postponed defending champions form making it to the last 16, but their win against Apoel and Spurs’s own win over Dortmund meant that Zinedine Zidane’s men is in the playoff stages with a game to spare.
Although Zidane has led Real to Champions League glory in each of his last two seasons in charge, his side fell 10 points behind Barcelona in La Liga after a goalless Madrid derby last weekend.
Both Ronaldo and his fellow forward Karim Benzema had also been under fire — their goal droughts in La Liga had been singled out as the one of the leading causes of Real’s underperfoming run.
But after Luka Modric opened the scoring with a volley from 25 yards, Benzema, who had scored only twice all season doubled that tally in the game itself with two neat finishes inside the area, while defender Nacho also headed in.
Ronaldo then headed home Marcelo’s cross and then scored from the edge of the area to become the third player in the Champions League era to also become the first player to score in each of the first five games of a season.
The final match day next month — which holds less meaning as the teams to progressed has already been determined — will see the Europa League qualification spot contested by Apoel and Dortmund, who both have two points from their five matches. Apoel will travel to Tottenham while Dortmund face Madrid at the Bernabeu.