Cristiano Ronaldo might be approaching 40 years of age in less than two years’ time, but he is not showing any signs of slowing down or calling an end to his career; The Al-Nassr and Portugal captain recently became the top scorer in 2023, after he netted a brace against Bosnia and Herzegovina in Matchday 8 of the 2024 UEFA Euro Qualifiers. The two goals, also happened to be his 126th and 127th international goals, allowed him to reach the 40-goal mark in 2023, eclipsing 23-year-old Norway and Manchester City striker sensation Erling Haaland as the new top scorer in 2023.
Two Goals and One Assist Against Bosnia and Herzegovina
Just a few days earlier, the five-time Ballon d’Or and four-time European Golden Boot winner scored a brace against Slovakia in the previous Matchday of the 2024 UEFA Euro Qualifiers, helping his side to beat their visitors 3-2 at Estádio do Dragão and qualify for the Finals in Germany next summer with seven wins in as many matches. The 38-year-old then followed up with another great performance last night, after he led already-qualified A Seleção das Quinas to trash Bosnia and Herzegovina 5-0 in the following match of the qualifying round at Bilino Polje.
During the game against their the world no. 63 nation, Ronaldo opened the scoresheet with a penalty in less than five minutes, thanks to striker partner João Félix’s shot that hit defender Adrian Leon Barišić’s arm in the penalty box. The Portugal captain opted for a softer approach and thrusted the ball into the middle spot, but the goalkeeper could not make the right direction this time around either. 15 minutes after Ronaldo’s first blood in the match, Félix and Ronaldo again combined in a Portugal attack, before the latter chipped the ball into the back of the net. Although the goal was initially ruled offside, but the replay suggested otherwise, allowing Ronaldo to double Portugal’s lead.
Manchester United captain Bruno Fernandes was the scorer of Portugal’s third goal of the evening, when he was unleashed by centre-back Gonçalo Inácio with a long ball and smashed it into the top right corner. Ronaldo then provided an assist to left-back João Cancelo seconds after the half-hour mark, as Bruno’s cross was too much for Ronaldo to have a proper strike, and his mistimed shot fell before Cancelo to net Portugal’s fourth of the evening. João Félix completed A Seleção das Quinas’s 5-0 thumping by capping off a devastating offensive team play, with Al-Nassr midfielder Otávio being the provider. Bosnia and Herzegovina was spared from conceding more in the second period, as Portugal opted for a rather quiet approach.
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Haaland Bettered as the Top Scorer in 2023
Ronaldo’s two goal and one assist in Matchday 8 of the 2024 UEFA Euro Qualifiers saw him bring his total international tally to 127 goals and 45 assists, making himself the first and only player to reach 40 goals this year and overtaking Manchester City’s treble-winning forward Haaland as the new top scorer in 2023. The 23-year-old Haaland currently has 39 goals in the calendar year of 2023, while French captain and Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappé is the third top scorer in 2023 with 35 goals.
If we take a closer look at Ronaldo’s statistics as the top scorer in 2023, the 38-year-old has 9 goals in 7 matches for the 2016 European champions Portugal whereas his club tally for Al-Nassr stands at 31 goals in 36 matches in all competitions this year. In other words, CR7 netted 40 times in 43 appearances for club and country in 2023, and we are still two and a half months away from the end of the year, meaning we could well be seeing him to bag the eventual title of the top scorer in 2023.
The player himself is certainly no stranger to scoring an insane number of goals in a calendar year, since 2023 is the 12th calendar year where he has managed to net more than 40 goals. Amongst these 12 different calendar years, half of those eclipsed the jaw-dropping 50-goal mark while the period from 2011 to 2014 witnessed Ronaldo impressively finding the back of the net more than 60 times each year. Now with him being the top scorer in 2023, questions have been asked if Ronaldo can be considered a serious contender for another Ballon d’Or win in the near future, which will potentially be the sixth crown in his 21-year career.
The Top Scorer in 2023 Is Also the Richest in 2023
The top scorer in 2023 will not be the only honour Ronaldo will receive this year. According to Forbes, the 38-year-old former Sporting CP, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus megastar also topped the list of highest-paid footballers in 2023. Based on reports, Ronaldo earned a total of €247 million in 2023, with €190m coming via his wages from his Saudi Pro League club Al-Nassr whereas the remaining €57 million are contributed by the top scorer in 2023’s off-field endorsements and sponsorships, especially with major brands such as Nike and Jacob & Co.
Completing the top ten list were Ronaldo’s arch-rivals Lionel Messi (Argentina and Inter Miami) at second, followed by Neymar (Brazil and Al-Hilal), Mbappé (France and Paris Saint-Germain), Karim Benzema (France and Al-Ittihad), Haaland (Norway and Manchester City), Mohamed Salah (Egypt and Liverpool), Sadio Mané (Senegal and Al-Nassr), Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium and Manchester City) and Harry Kane (England and Bayern Munich).