(Al Jazeera) Cristiano Ronaldo came off the bench for Manchester United and scored the 700th club goal of his career in their 2-1 win over Everton.
No player in the history of the game has achieved the feat that the Portugal captain reached in his club’s win on Sunday.
Ronaldo was United’s top scorer last season but has struggled for game time under new boss Erik ten Hag.
He has made just one Premier League start this season and played 207 minutes before the game against Everton.
There was speculation of a transfer away from United in the summer, but that failed to materialise. Ronaldo could still leave the club in January.
Despite his limited involvement this season, ten Hag was quick to laud Ronaldo for his achievement and hinted at him having a bigger role to play in his plans.
“That is really impressive,” ten Hag said. “When you score 700 goals, it’s a huge performance. I’m really happy for him, I congratulate him on that performance and I’m also happy it’s his first goal this season in the Premier League – he had to wait for it and I’m sure there will be more goals.”
Breakdown of the 700 goals
Real Madrid – 450
Manchester United – 144
Juventus – 101
Sporting Lisbon – 5
Ronaldo turned back the years at Goodison Park, running onto a through ball from former Real Madrid teammate Casemiro on the left and after a couple of brisk touches, slotting it clinically into the bottom corner.
Ronaldo fans across the world were rendered delirious by his goal and will be hoping that it sparks a return to form for the Portuguese who had scored just once this season before last night’s game.
“It is tough still counting goals for Ronaldo because every week seems like a new record,” Ronaldo’s Portugal and United teammate Bruno Fernandes said.
“I am really happy because he has been working hard to get this goal. Today he got the goal and the win and that is the most important for him, that the team won.”
While Ronaldo’s critics feel he hinders the rest of the team’s buildup play, the Portuguese talisman’s ability to consistently find the back of the net is unmatched.
United’s finish in the league that earned them a Europa League spot was largely down to his 18 goals in the league.
Brazilian midfielder Casemiro made his first start for United against Everton and it was fitting that he was the one who provided the assist for his winning goal.
“He gives you a lot of goals, he is a winner, he is a leader,” Casemiro said in an interview with ESPN Brazil following his move to United this summer. “He is so important for us. We approached each other because of the language, too. Since the first day here, he has helped me with everything. He is helping me a lot. I really hope he stays with us.”
While Ronaldo’s goal re-sparked the GOAT debate, Everton manager Frank Lampard believes comparing Ronaldo and Lionel Messi is an exercise in futility.
“He’s [Ronaldo] one of the greatest players that has graced the game, in an era where we had himself and Messi and that the comparison doesn’t matter,” said Lampard.
“They are just both incredible players in history. So to be going and looking as physically good as he looks to keep scoring goals as he’s done, the numbers that he’s racked up that just all becomes normal, you know, abnormal numbers that become normal year after year.”