Cesc Fabregas has recalled Cristiano Ronaldo’s famous long-range free-kick goal against Arsenal in the Champions League in 2009.
Arsenal and Manchester United met at the Emirates Stadium on May 2009 for the second leg of a Champions League semi-final clash.
The prize up for grabs was a spot in the final. A John O’Shea goal handed United a 1-0 first-leg win at Old Trafford. But with home advantage, and a burning desire to win Arsene Wenger a first European trophy, Arsenal eyed an upset. What they didn’t count on, though, was the Cristiano Ronaldo masterclass that followed.
The Portuguese ace proved nothing was beyond him by smashing home a seemingly impossible free-kick from around 40 yards out to double United’s lead following Ji-Sung Park’s opening goal.
Nobody, not even the match commentator in the video below, expected Ronaldo to score. Yet he did just that, and there was nothing that Gunners goalkeeper Manuel Almunia could do about it.
Ronaldo added a second goal later on to seal United a 3-1 win in north London, ensuring the Red Devils a spot in the Champions League courtesy of a 4-1 aggregate triumph.
“My record against Cristiano, for Arsenal against Manchester United, Barcelona against Real Madrid and Spain against Portugal, is actually pretty good,” Cesc Fabregas wrote in his Telegraph column.
“I have won more times than I have lost, but two of my earliest memories of him are helping United beat Arsenal, when it was already clear he was going to be world class.
“Even back when I first played against him, as a substitute when I was 17 and he would have been 19 years old, you could see that he had that arrogance, a good arrogance that the really top players need.
“Cristiano was a young player, but he didn’t mind having a little go at some of our legends on the pitch. He scored two goals, and he was outstanding in a 4-2 victory for United.”
The former Gunners captain continued: “Then in 2009, it was the Champions League semi-finals, and we had lost by one goal at Old Trafford in the first leg.
“Everything was prepared for the comeback and a big night at the Emirates, but all of our dreams fell apart pretty quickly and Cristiano was amazing in that game.
“He scored the free-kick from somewhere near my hometown. It was so far out, and the sprint he made for the counter-attack for his second goal just showed how hungry he was for scoring goals at such a young age.
“You could feel he was special, unstoppable.”