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Madrid star Ronaldo earns his second Champions League title

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The Canadian Press
5/24/2014 8:48:40 PM
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LISBON, Portugal -- Cristiano Ronaldo has two Champions League winner medals to show off along with his two world player of the year awards.

That is, when he's done showing off his ripped physique.

Ronaldo's penalty at the end of extra time Saturday sealed a 4-1 victory for Real Madrid over Atletico Madrid, which led deep into stoppage time after 90 minutes.

The 29-year-old Portuguese star then ripped off his shirt in celebration and struck a pose showing off his muscles.

Soon, Ronaldo was being hugged by Portugal's state president, Anibal Cavaco Silva, and patted on the back by Spain's King Juan Carlos before collecting his medal from UEFA President Michel Platini -- who also hugged him.

Just another night of Ronaldo being soccer's biggest showman and undisputed current best player.

"Since day one at the club I've felt ready for this," said the Madrid star after helping end the club's wait since 2002 for a coveted 10th European title in his fifth season there.

"The pressure is making me a better player. It was worth risking (my injury) since we're champions," Ronaldo told reporters.

The Madrid star now heads to Brazil to cap his stellar season at the World Cup, where Group G rivals Germany, the United States and Ghana await him.

Ronaldo will arrive with confidence peaking, even if his finishing fell from his own absurdly high standards Saturday.

His 51st goal of the season came from his ninth attempt, including two trademark free kicks which tested Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois within his limits.

One missed second-half chance seemed scripted for Ronaldo: hanging high to meet a Sergio Ramos cross, neck muscles tightening to drive his forehead at the ball. An untypically tame connection glanced the ball wide.

Six years ago, in his first Champions League final, Ronaldo met the moment and ball to arrow his header into Chelsea's goal and give Manchester United the lead in Moscow.

The eventual manner of victory in 2008 was as dramatic as Saturday's proved.

Then, Ronaldo was the only Man United player to have his penalty saved in a shootout, before Chelsea captain John Terry struck a post with the potentially decisive kick.

When Edwin van der Sar sealed victory with a save, Ronaldo lay crying in the centre circle alone as teammates raced toward the goalkeeper.

Still, Man United's European title helped propel Ronaldo over great rival Lionel Messi in January 2009 to win his first FIFA world player award.

Messi beat Ronaldo in the next Champions League final, scoring in Barcelona's 2-0 win.

That night in Rome announced Messi's rise above Ronaldo in football's firmament. Confirmation came with Messi's election to the FIFA honour for an unprecedented four straight years.

Ronaldo stopped the streak in January on another tearful evening. His young son Cristiano stood beside him on stage and Pele also wept at this shoulder.

The accolade was acclaimed as reward for hard work to hone his body and raise an already prolific scoring record.

There were no tears Saturday, and Ronaldo was at the heart of the party.

It was in the same Stadium of Light in Lisbon that Ronaldo lost in his first major final -- a stunning 1-0 upset for Greece over host Portugal in the 2004 European Championship.

With this measure of redemption, Ronaldo closed on the three Champions League titles held by 26-year-old Messi.

The World Cup stage offers Ronaldo the stage to show he can also close the gap in world player honours.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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