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Record-breaker Cristiano Ronaldo’s remarkable Champions League record goes on

Manchester United v Atalanta – UEFA Champions League – Group F – Old Trafford
(Image credit: Martin Rickett)

Cristiano Ronaldo added Atalanta to his list of Champions League victims on Wednesday night as his late winner continued his impressive record in the competition.

The Manchester United striker holds the records for most appearances and goals in UEFA’s elite competition, two of a host of categories in which he leads the way.

Scoring against a 38th different opponent in the competition proper saw him reclaim one of those marks outright from Lionel Messi and here, the PA news agency looks at Ronaldo’s records and how he compares to Messi.

Ronaldo’s records

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Most appearances: 179
Ronaldo’s first Champions League appearance of his second spell with United, against Young Boys, saw him draw level with his long-time Real Madrid team-mate Iker Casillas on 177 before he broke the record against Villarreal. Messi now ranks third after moving ahead of former Barcelona colleague Xavi to 152 on Tuesday.

Most goals: 137
Ronaldo and Messi are the only players to score over 100 Champions League goals, with the Portuguese currently 14 clear. Robert Lewandowski is a distant third on 78.

Most goals in a season: 17
Ronaldo’s 2013-14 campaign set the record, while he scored 16 two seasons later. His 15 in 2017-18 is tied with Lewandowski’s 2019-20 campaign for third on the list, while Messi’s best is 14 in 2011-12.

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Most hat-tricks: 8
Ronaldo’s most recent treble came for Juventus against Atletico Madrid in March 2019 and drew him level with Messi for the record.

Most times top scorer: 7
Messi is just behind on six, including the 2014-15 season in which the two players, along with Messi’s then Barcelona team-mate Neymar, tied on 10 goals.

Scored in most finals: 3
Ronaldo has won the title five times and scored in three of those finals, in 2008 for United and 2014 and 2017 for Real.

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring in the 2017 Champions League final

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring in the 2017 Champions League final (Nick Potts/PA)

Most consecutive appearances with a goal: 11
That 2017 final was the start of a scoring run in the competition which stretched all the way to the following season’s quarter-final.

Scored against most opponents: 38
Messi’s brace against Leipzig on Tuesday briefly drew him level with Ronaldo, who responded with a late winner against Atalanta. His record is 39 if the qualifying rounds are included, having netted for United against Debrecen in 2005.

Ronaldo v Messi

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One record Ronaldo can never take from Messi is the latter reaching 100 goals in the fewest games – 123 to Ronaldo’s 144, though Ronaldo did get there a year earlier.

Messi has also scored in 17 Champions League seasons to Ronaldo’s 16 and is younger by more than two years – Ronaldo has been tipped in some quarters to play on into his 40s, and may need to if he is to break that record.

While Ronaldo’s more frequent transfers have helped him add to his tally of opponents – he has scored Champions League goals against United and his former clubs Sporting Lisbon and Juventus, though not Real – Messi’s longevity at Barcelona saw him rack up a single-club record of 120 goals there which Ronaldo, who scored 105 for Real, has no hope of competing with.

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