Even for Cristiano Ronaldo, bicycle kick goal was special

TURIN, Italy (AP) Even by Cristiano Ronaldo’s record-breaking standards, this goal was special.

The Real Madrid forward leaped into the air with his back to the goal, swung his right leg high over his head and sent the ball flying past a flat-footed Gianluigi Buffon.

”CRWOW” wrote Gazzetta dello Sport in its headline on Wednesday.

The 64th-minute bicycle kick, Ronaldo’s second goal of the match, came in a 3-0 win over Juventus on Tuesday in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals.

”I had also scored another one similar, but I have to say, this one was spectacular. I jumped very high and obviously it’s a goal that will live long in the memory,” Ronaldo said. ”Certainly it’s my best goal.”

The goal was so good that even the Juventus fans rose to applaud Ronaldo – after previously jeering his every touch.

”It was one of the greatest moments of the night for me,” Ronaldo said. ”To be applauded in a stadium like this, which has been graced by so many great players, was a top moment for me. I’m really happy.

”I was moved because when I was a kid, I always liked Juventus and the fact that their fans have applauded me will stay in my heart and is a great memory. To all of the Italians in the stadium I just want to say `Grazie.”’

Buffon, who compared Ronaldo to former greats Diego Maradona and Pele, was left standing still for the goal as he and his defenders – some of the best in the world – could only watch as the ball soared into the back of the net.

”I just heard the sound of him kicking the ball,” Juventus defender Andrea Barzagli said. ”Normally when you try to do an overhead kick you don’t hit the ball well, but here you can’t even understand how he took it.

”I couldn’t do anything else but admire him and the rest of the stadium did so, too. It’s not that we couldn’t manage to mark him, it’s just that no one can manage to mark him, you just have to look at his statistics. He’s a lethal player, an assassin.”

The statistics are impressive. On Tuesday, the Portugal forward became the first player in Champions League history to score in 10 straight matches – a run that started in last year’s final win over Juventus.

The 33-year-old Ronaldo, who has scored the most goals in the Champions League, has netted 24 in his last 14 matches in Europe’s top club competition.

The last goal, though, even impressed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored a similar goal but from much farther away in Sweden’s 4-2 win over England in November 2012.

”It was a nice goal,” Ibrahimovic told ESPN. ”But he should try it from 40 meters.”