Diego Maradona hailed Cristiano Ronaldo as a “sorcerer” after the magical Juventus star fulfilled his pre-match prediction by scoring a hat-trick against Atletico Madrid.
The Italian club’s share price shot up by 20% after reaching the Champions League quarter-finals to pay back another chunk of the Portuguese’s £85m transfer fee.
And Maradona said: “There are players who have been touched by a magic wand. We Argentines are proud that Lionel Messi is Argentinian.
“The other one is an animal. Ronaldo is pure power, and now he’s also a sorcerer. He said he’d score three goals and he scored three goals.”
The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star netted his eighth Champions League hat-trick to draw level with Messi to extend his record tally to 124 goals in 160 matches. He has scored 63 times in the knockout stages.
With Juventus bidding to win the Champions League for the first time since 1996, midfielder Blaise Matuidi said: “He has already won the competition five times, he can win it again. He showed again on Tuesday that he is the No.1.”
By contrast, the Spanish press were left to rue the loss of Ronaldo following Real Madrid’s humiliating defeat to Ajax last week.
“Madrid should never have let a player like this escape, when he had a contract, was the all-time top scorer and one of the patrons of the four Champions League wins,” said sports daily Marca.
“They gave away a legend for 100 million euros. We just saw that Ronaldo is priceless. Letting him go was a historic error. Cristiano wasn’t worth 100 million euros, he was worth a billion.”
Rio Ferdinand told BT Sports he considers Ronaldo as a “football god”.
“He’s a living football god,” Ferdinand said on BT Sports. “It is ridiculous what he is doing.
“It is the Champions League and he has every record you can imagine. He is joint top scorer and hat-trick man with Messi.
“His first goal is like Duncan Ferguson in his prime. He attacks the ball and leaves the centre back in a heap and then says ‘this is me’. That is what you call desire.”