Cape Town – Former Manchester United team-mate Rio Ferdinand labelled Cristiano Ronaldo as a ‘living football god’ after his heroics inspired Juventus to a comeback win over Atletico Madrid in a Champions League last 16 tie on Tuesday.
Ronaldo scored a hat-trick as the Italians overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit to advance to the quarter-finals of the Champions League in dramatic fashion.
Ferdinand was quick to praise the five-time Ballon d’Or winner as he once again dragged his team to victory in Europe’s elite competition.
“Cristiano is a living football god and it is ridiculous what he is doing,” Ferdinand told BT Sport.
“In the Champions League he has got every record you can imagine. And it was also against an Atletico team that is renowned for having a great defence.”
The Portuguese superstar scored two headers either side of half-time and a late penalty to clinch a place in Friday’s last-eight draw with a dominant display by the Italian champions in Turin.
“It was always going to be a special night and it was, not only for the goals, but for the team,” said Ronaldo.
“This is the mentality of champions. This is why Juve brought me in, to help on magical nights like this.”
Diego Simeone’s Atletico were a shadow of the team who had run riot in the first leg in Madrid, and crashed out of the tournament they had been hoping to win in their own Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on June 1.
“The lads have shown great maturity,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.
“They interpreted the game at their best, I have to congratulate them. This is what we wanted in the first leg.
“Tonight we were lucid, there was the risk of having a hysterical match, as if everything had to be done in 10 minutes.”