Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 26th 2014 Contents A61
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now 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 win for Real Madrid over
Atletico Madrid, which had led
deep into stoppage time after
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 pres-
ident, Anibal Cavaco Silva, and
patted on the back by Spain s
King Juan Carlos before collect-
ing his medal from UEFA Pres-
ident Michel Platini---who also
Just another night of Ronaldo
being football s biggest show-
man and undisputed current
"Since day one at the club
I ve felt ready for this," said the
Madrid star after helping ended
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
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 con-
fidence peaking, even if his fin-
ishing 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 goal-
keeper Thibaut Courtois within
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
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 vic-
tory 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 Jan-
uary 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
Ronaldo stopped the streak
in January on another tearful
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
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
president Lennart Johansson
says Michel Platini is unlikely
to challenge Sepp Blatter next
year for the Fifa presidency.
Next month in Brazil, Blatter
will ask Fifa s 209 member fed-
erations to support his bid for
a fifth term, seeming to close
Platini s path to the job.
Fifa candidate) one day but not
now," said Johansson.
Johansson said he had "an
excellent relationship with
Michel," and praised his suc-
cessor as UEFA president.
Johansson wondered whether
Platini was "really interested"
in fighting for the Fifa leader-
Platini has said he would
consult UEFA s 54 members
later this year before announc-
ing his intentions.
The FIifa deadline for can-
didates is January, four months
before the May 29 poll. UEFA s
presidential election is next
LISBON---For Atletico Madrid, this story line
is a little too familiar.
Forty years on from conceding a last-minute
goal in its only previous European Cup final,
Atletico endured a similar ending Saturday as a
stoppage-time equaliser helped Real Madrid rally
for a 4-1 extra-time victory in the Champions
Atletico s nickname the "pupas"---or "jinxed
ones"---stems from the 1974 European Cup loss
to Bayern Munich, which scored a 120th-minute
equalizer to force a replay that it won 4-0.
Atletico looked set to follow up its first
Spanish league title in 18 years with a maid-
en European Cup when Diego Godin
headed home in the first half at the
Stadium of Light.
But Sergio Ramos equalised in
the injury time before Gareth
Bale, Marcelo, and Cristiano
Ronaldo completed Real s win.
"This match is not worth
a tear," Atletico coach Diego
Simeone said. "The word to
describe this feeling isn t sadness
but bitterness as we didn t achieve the
objectives we set for ourselves.
"But tomorrow is another day."
Not only was Atletico just over 60 seconds
away from erasing the painful memories of that
1974 final, but from
completing the greatest
season in club history
with a historic double.
Just one week ago
Atletico secured its first
Spanish league title in
18 years, an improbable
triumph to become the
first Spanish winner
besides Barcelona or
Real since Valencia in
But Simeone s decision to play injured striker
Diego Costa set Atletico back as the Brazilian-
born, Spain striker exited after just nine minutes.
With midfielder Arda Turan also out to injury,
Atletico s players struggled over the extra 30 min-
utes with the team out of timeouts and running
low on energy.
"We were champions in the 93rd," said striker
Adrian Lopez, who replaced Costa. "We played
a great game for 90 minutes and it was a shame
we couldn t avoid (Ramos ) goal."
It took Atletico 40 years for an opportunity to
erase the memories of Heysel, the sight of the
1974 final and final replay. Its 10th league trophy
seems a little less impressive on Saturday.
"To win the league was marvelous and we were
so close to such an important trophy," Simeone
said. "This will help us prepare for what is going
to come next in the best way."
Champions League title
Real's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring during the
Champions League final soccer match between Atletico Madrid
and Real Madrid in Lisbon, Portugal, Saturday. AP PHOTO
Ex-UEFA chief doubts Platini will make Fifa bid
"The word to
bitterness as we
didn't achieve the
objectives we set
"But tomorrow is
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