It was a few minutes after midnight when I got to chat with Cristiano Ronaldo exclusively for UEFA.com, deep in the belly of Dortmund’s impressive stadium.
A stadium which Madrid had tried in vain to conquer six times before. On Tuesday they finally succeeded so it is perhaps no surprise that the Portuguese was all smiles after his 150th game in UEFA club competition, his 400th in all for Madrid.
“The game was a challenge for us as our coach said. Winning here, we changed history,” he said. “Madrid had never won in this stadium so it was great for us. We won, we played well, we scored three goals. It was not easy but we won here for the first time.”
They did so in style. Against a Dortmund side that refused to play anything but attacking football and employed a high line, switching to a back three for the final third of the match against Madrid’s extraordinary class on the break. The Merengues could have scored more. “We defended well, we kept the ball, created chances and scored.”
The 32-year old had lots of praise for a BVB side that has dazzled the Bundesliga so far this season, but ultimately went down to a second 3-1 loss in as many UEFA Champions League outings. “I think they are an unbelievable team. They are a young side, and in my opinion one of the best teams out there.”
Not many stop Ronaldo, who struck twice to add to Gareth Bale’s wonderful early volley. Those two goals took him to 112 in his 150 European games and completed a quarter of a century in 20 encounters with Bundesliga opposition.
“I always like playing great teams in big games,” he said when confronted with that impressive stat. “I am glad to have scored 25 goals against German teams. Scoring goals in this competition is amazing for me. I am so pleased and grateful that I could do my job tonight.”
So what of the talk of a goal drought? Of Madrid’s sluggish start to 2017/18? Forget it. “We’re on a roll now. We love the Champions League. We are the champions and want to win it again.
“We know it’s going to be tough. But together with Tottenham we now top our group [on six points apiece] and I think we have a good chance to win it again, even though it is a long journey. Fingers crossed.”
“Tonight”, he finished, “was a Real Madrid night”. It was surely also one of those Cristiano Ronaldo nights.