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Soccer-With Ronaldo hat-trick, Brady witnesses another GOAT defy the years

Randy Mancini 5 Mar 12
NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Jets
FILE PHOTO: Jan 2, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) jogs off of the field after the game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

March 12, 2022

By Simon Evans

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – As Tom Brady walked onto the Old Trafford field to greet Cristiano Ronaldo after the Manchester United striker’s hat-trick in Saturday’s 3-2 Premier League win over Tottenham Hotspur there was a knowing smile on his face.

What would surely have most impressed former NFL great Brady, who retired last month aged 44, was not the stunning 25 metre opener nor the well-placed header to win the match nine minutes from time but the look of determination, bordering on anger, that the 37-year-old Ronaldo had throughout the game.

Brady was not like that. He kept his emotions well hidden for most of his Hall of Fame career as a quarterback for the New England Patriots and latterly the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before retiring with a record seven Super Bowl triumphs.

But while a fist-pump or a back-slap might have been as emotional as Brady managed publicly in most games, there was never any doubt he burned with the same passion and desire as fellow Greatest of All Time (GOAT) contender Ronaldo.

The Portuguese has scored 18 goals so far this season, after returning to United from Italian club Juventus, but there has been continuous chatter from pundits that he is a ‘problem’ for the club and more recently suggestions that all is not well in his rapport with interim manager Ralf Rangnick.

So there was an extra fire in Ronaldo’s performance on Saturday and United’s World Cup-winning French midfielder Paul Pogba addressed the issue head on.

“He has never been a problem. You have the best striker in history in our team, it cannot be a problem. Today he showed why he is Cristiano Ronaldo. The performance from him and all the team was very brilliant,” he said.

“Everybody knows Cristiano – there’s no need to talk about him. That’s what he does. He didn’t play in the last game, but he comes back and scores three goals. Everybody’s happy.”

DECISIVE RONALDO

Tottenham’s Italian manager Antonio Conte had no doubt about the impact of the five-times Ballon d’Or winner on the game.

“Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are the two best players in the world in this era. When you play against this type of player, they’re decisive. Without Cristiano Ronaldo, for United it wouldn’t have been a good night,” he said.

His German counterpart Rangnick was quick to praise the team performance but could not ignore the display by the former Real Madrid and Juventus man.

“Today it was his best performance, at least since I arrived. He was good in training on Thursday and that is why I decided to start him. Fantastic performance by him but also by the rest of the team,” he said.

The crowd lapped it up with Old Trafford loudly showing its appreciation.

“He can do (that) but again he can also do it only with the team. A fantastic performance. It was not just the three goals today it was also that he was part of the team when they were in possession of the ball,” added Rangnick.

(Reporting by Simon Evans, Editing by Ken Ferris)