CRISTIANO RONALDO won the Battle of the Ballon D’Ors after leading Juventus to victory over Lionel Messi’s Barcelona.
The Portuguese superstar’s penalties either side of half time earned the Old Lady an impressive win at the Nou Camp – enough to top Group G.
But six-time Ballon D’Or winner Ronaldo will be happy to end an unwanted record of never scoring against a side that included his old rival Messi – who has the five Ballon D’ors.
American wonderkid Weston McKennie also netted to hand Ronald Koeman’s Barca a third loss in four games in all competitions.
But this clash was all about the two best players in the world going head-to-head for the first time since May 2018.
On that day, as Barca drew 2-2 with eventual La Liga champions Real Madrid, both Messi and Ronaldo found the net.
But two years and seven months later, this was the Ronaldo show on his 36th meeting with Catalan’s creator Messi.
Heading into this one, Messi led in the stats department. More goals scored and more wins when facing Ronaldo.
In particular in the Champions League. In their five meetings in Europe’s elite competition, Ronaldo’s only win has come in the 2007/08 campaign with Manchester United.
But that has all changed now 12 years later, as the 35-year-old showed he still has what it takes to mix it with his old El Clasico foe with Juventus.
Ronaldo was missing from the first group stage clash between these two Euro heavyweights after contracting coronavirus while on international duty with Portugal.
That night saw Messi score a late penalty as Barca claimed a comfortable 2-0 win away in Turin to edge towards the knock-out stages.
But upon his return to the grand stage, Ronaldo made his presence known early on – much to the delight of newbee manager Andrea Pirlo.
Ronaldo’s first chance came as Barca were caught playing out from the back – Juan Cuadrado’s square ball teeing up Ronaldo but for a toe-poked effort at Marc Ter Stegen.
But he found a net-bulging connection in the 12th minute as a driving run into the box saw him bundled over by Ronadl Araujo as the referee pointed to the spot.
A calm finish down the middle from 12-yards followed, as well as his trademark celebration.
More joy followed eight minutes later with Cuadrado at the heat of things again with a neat chip into the box and McKennie’s acrobatic bicycle kick flying past Ter Stegen.
Messi’s first chance was a tame effort straight at Gianluigi Buffon in the 35th minute.
But Ronaldo was handed the chance to double his tally just after half time in the 49th minute after Clement Lenglet’s handball in the area – a similar finish and celebration ensued.
It could have been a greater scoreline but for Leonardo Bonucci’s disallowed goal in the 75th minute thanks to VAR.
But no video technology could take away Ronaldo finally hitting the net to get one past Messi.
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