Ronaldo: Cristiano ‘had a spectacular season for Real Madrid and Portugal’

Cristiano Ronaldo said he had answered his critics in style as he rounded off a "spectacular" year with a hat-trick to win the Club World Cup for Real Madrid and add to his multitude of titles.

Cristiano Ronaldo rounded off a successful 2016 with a Club World Cup winners medal and the trophy for the tournament's best player. Kazuhiro Nogi / AFP
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Cristiano Ronaldo said he had answered his critics in style as he rounded off a “spectacular” year with a hat-trick to win the Club World Cup for Real Madrid and add to his multitude of titles.

After his heroics floored Japan's Kashima Antlers 4-2 in extra-time on Sunday, the Portuguese superstar summed up a remarkable season in which he has also lifted the Uefa Champions League, Super Cup, Euro 2016 and Ballon D'Or trophies.

“They always expect more of Cristiano,” said Ronaldo, referring to himself in the third person.

“It’s been a week full of joy after winning the Ballon d’Or too. I thank my teammates because without them Cristiano couldn’t win these individual awards.”

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■ The Year of Cristiano Ronaldo: 2016 belonged to the Real Madrid and Portugal superstar

■ Primera Liga in focus: Sergio Ramos the fulcrum of a Real Madrid aiming for world domination

Ronaldo, 31, showed why he was voted the world’s best player for a fourth time last week, but there were also the moments of self-indulgence that make him such a polarising figure.

At one point in the first half, he even tripped over the ball after attempting one of his trademark stepovers.

But as a nail-biting final went into extra time, Ronaldo pounced twice to bring Madrid a second world club title in three years and fifth in total.

It capped an astonishing year in which Ronaldo helped Madrid become champions of Europe for an 11th time, added a Super Cup and led Portugal to a stunning Euro 2016 title.

“The stats don’t lie, as always,” Ronaldo said, referring to last week’s Ballon d’Or award, which put him one behind fierce rival Lionel Messi’s record five.

“People criticise me often but I’m used to it.

“I’ve shown my quality on the pitch for many years and I had a spectacular season for Real Madrid and Portugal.”

His preening style and pouty social media photos showing off his six-pack can grate, but Ronaldo is pure box office.

A crowd of 68,000 in Yokohama gasped at Ronaldo’s showboating, even if his teammates weren’t so enthralled.

It was inevitable at a tournament where Fifa trialled video referees for the first time in official competition that Ronaldo was central to that plotline too.

When his semi-final goal was briefly reviewed — by accident, as it turned out as a video referee had inadvertently kept his finger on the intercom button, alerting the referee to a possible offside — Ronaldo’s face turned to thunder.

Moments later he broke out into a broad grin, order restored as the referee confirmed his 377th goal in 366 games for Madrid, now 380 in 367.

After their punishing trip to the Far East, the Primera Liga leaders finally get some time off before a home game against Granada on January 7.

* Agence France-Presse

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