Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo today became the winner of the Gold Trophy of the Alipay Top Scorer Awards at UEFA EURO 2020.
Regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, Ronaldo netted five goals and made one assist at the competition.
Patrik Schick from the Czech Republic was awarded the Silver Trophy, scoring five goals, while France’s Karim Benzema was the recipient of the Bronze Trophy, netting four goals.
The Alipay Top Scorer trophies are the first major international football Top-Scorer trophies to embed blockchain in their design, incorporating a hash code at the base through which scoring records of the tournament’s top three scorers can be uploaded and permanently stored on a blockchain powered by AntChain.
Using the hash code provided, Alipay will upload the trophy data to the blockchain, ensuring a permanent, immutable record of the top scorers’ achievements.
“Our warmest congratulations to Cristiano Ronaldo for his phenomenal performances at UEFA EURO 2020, and for winning the Alipay Top Scorer Gold Award,” said Eric Jing, Chairman and CEO of Ant Group, who presented the top scorer trophies via video from Hangzhou immediately after the final game of UEFA EURO 2020.
Cristiano Ronaldo said on Monday he was looking forward to beginning Euro 2020 in front of a packed Puskas Arena against Hungary as he prepares to lead defending champions Portugal in their search for a repeat triumph.
At 36 years old, Ronaldo is set take the field in front of 68,000 fans in the Hungarian capital on Tuesday in what should be Portugal’s simplest match in a tough Group F alongside Germany and world champions France.
“It’s perfect. I wish every single venue could host a full house. It’s great for viewers and players, but sadly it’s not up to us to decide,” said Ronaldo.
“We know the pandemic has its influence. I wish we could always play before a full house.”
Portugal have lost Joao Cancelo from their squad to Covid-19 after the Manchester City right-back tested positive for the virus on Sunday, but Ronaldo says the team are not worrying about the pandemic.
“We don’t talk about Covid because we’re tired of it. It’s a sad situation but we’re focused… Nothing will shake us… We’re just focused on playing.
“I think the team is ready, physically and emotionally. The players are young but that doesn’t stop us from dreaming. I know all the players are ready.”
The Portugal captain is set to become the first person to play in at least one match at five European Championships, and also has another record in sight.
He needs just five more goals to equal Iranian Ali Daei’s all-time mark of 109 international goals, a feasible target at this summer’s tournament should Portugal go deep.
“I’m not the same player I was 18 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago… you keep adjusting,” said Ronaldo.
“I’m more mature, if a player wants to play for many years he needs to learn how to adapt. From 18 to 36 years old I’ve learned to adjust and adapt, and I’ve always been able to win personally and collectively.”
A win over the Magyars would go a long way to ensuring Portugal qualify for the next round at least as one of the tournament’s best third-placed teams as coach Fernando Santos targets two Euro titles in a row with a talented squad.
“Right now we think we have what it takes to win the cup,” said Santos.
“There are very good opponents, seven or eight teams are playing to take the trophy home, and there are dark horses who also think they have a chance. The only difference is that we hold the title.”
Hungary captain Adam Szalai is also looking forward to running out with a huge crowd behind him and his team as the group underdogs aim to somehow claim a place in the knockout stages.
Mainz forward Szalai said that the 2019 opening of the Puskas Arena was one of his “best ever memories” and is relishing the chance to play in a major tournament in his own country.
“That a Hungarian team can take part in a tournament that is being hosted here in Budapest is like a dream come true for all the players,” he said.
“If someone had told me as a kid that I would take part in two Euros in a row and that one of them would be hosted in Budapest I don’t think I would have had the words to express my feelings, now I’ve just one sleep to go to experience it.”
Sporting Lisbon youngster Pedro Goncalves was handed a maiden Portugal call-up as coach Fernando Santos named his 26-man squad for Euro 2020 on Thursday.
The reigning champions will be led by Cristiano Ronaldo, who is just six goals short of Iranian Ali Daei’s all-time international record of 103 goals and level with Michel Platini’s record mark of nine European Championship strikes.
The 22-year-old Goncalves has been rewarded for his impressive club form this season.
He scored a league-leading 23 Primeira Liga goals to help Sporting win their first Portuguese title since 2002.
Goncalves will face a tough task to get into the starting XI, though, with Ronaldo, Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, Joao Felix and Liverpool forward Diogo Jota, despite currently being sidelined with an injury, all making the cut.
Veteran Porto centre-back Pepe, 38, is also in the squad despite not having played for his country since October last year.
Portugal open their title defence against Hungary in Budapest on June 15, before facing Germany in Munich four days later.
They round off their Group F campaign against France at the Puskas Arena, in a repeat of the Euro 2016 final.
Santos has kept faith with Wolves midfielders Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves, with Renato Sanches, whose Lille side could win the Ligue 1 title on Sunday, likely to line up alongside them.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice late to rescue a 2-1 win for Juventus at Udinese on Sunday hours after the Turin giants lost their Serie A crown to Inter Milan.
Inter broke Juve’s nine-year streak of domestic dominance by clinching their 19th ‘Scudetto’ after nearest rivals Atalanta drew 1-1 at Sassuolo to leave the ‘Nerazzurri’ 13 points clear with four games remaining.
Antonio Conte’s side had needed just one point to take the title regardless of how Atalanta fared after their 2-0 win at Crotone on Saturday, and have denied Juve a 10th consecutive league title.
Juve’s win moves them up to third as they target a Champions League spot, but are equal on 69 points with second-placed Atalanta and AC Milan in fourth.
Napoli are two points behind in fifth after a 1-1 draw against Cagliari while Lazio are still in the running, five points off a top-four finish with a game in hand after an exciting 4-3 win over Genoa.
“The nine years are over, we will no longer have the Scudetto attached to the shirt, but we will start again with the same desire as before,” said Juve coach Andrea Pirlo.
“We lost points against teams that we should have beaten, sometimes naively, we let Inter escape and now we are focused on reaching the Champions League.”
Juventus had trailed for most of the game in Udine after Nahuel Molina put Udinese ahead in the 10th minutes, blasting in off a quickly taken Rodrigo De Paul free kick while Juventus players were still protesting.
Weston McKennie missed a chance to level for the away side before the half hour mark when he sent a diving header wide.
Matthijs de Ligt had a shot charged down with Ronaldo nodding the follow-up over.
The equaliser came with seven minutes to go after De Paul conceded a penalty for handball from a Ronaldo free kick, with the Portuguese forward making no mistake from the penalty spot.
Four minutes later he grabbed the winner when he headed home an Adrien Rabiot cross with relieved coach Andrea Pirlo racing to join the celebrations.
Ronaldo brings his Serie A-leading tally to 27 goals, six more than Inter’s Romelu Lukaku.
Atalanta hold on for a point
In Emilia-Romagna, Atalanta played most of the match a man down after goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini saw red after 22 minutes at the Mapei Stadium.
Atalanta’s Robin Gosens scored 10 minutes after Gollini’s sending off for recklessly bringing down Jeremie Boga.
Domenico Berardi pulled Sassuolo level from the penalty spot seven minutes after the break after Hamed Traore went down in the penalty box under pressure from Rafael Toloi.
Sassuolo also played the final quarter of an hour with 10 men after Brazilian defender Marlon was sent off for a second yellow card, but goalkeeper Andrea Consigli saved Muriel’s penalty to hand Inter the title.
In Naples, Nahitan Nandez got a late equaliser for Cagliari to cancel out Victor Osimhen’s 13th-minute opener.
Napoli are still in the running for the Champions League while Cagliari move one point clear of the relegation zone.
Lazio’s thrilling victory over Genoa secured a club-record 11th consecutive win.
Joaquin Correa scored a brace, breaking the deadlock after half an hour and striking again 11 minutes after the break.
Ciro Immobile added the second from the penalty spot before half-time after an Ivan Radovanovic foul.
Genoa made a triple substitution after the break and got back into the game when under-pressure Lazio defender Adam Marusic turned into his own net.
Luis Alberto curled in a third for the hosts just after with Correa then making it 4-1.
The hosts survived a late scare as Genoa fought back with Gianluca Scamacca slotting in a penalty with 10 minutes to go and Eldor Shomurodov blasting in another goal almost immediately afterwards.
Juve’s nine-year reign as champions looks set to end, and they are now facing a battle for a Champions League place.
They sit fourth and risk being overtaken by fifth-placed Napoli who play leaders Inter Milan later Sunday.
Atalanta had not beaten Juventus in Serie A in 20 years going back to February 2001.
In Ronaldo’s absence, Paulo Dybala got his first start in over three months after recovering from a knee injury.
But the Argentine failed to make much of an impact and was substituted in the 68th minute despite setting up Weston McKennie for a chance the American missed on 38 minutes and sending a free-kick wide after the hour mark.
Alvaro Morata missed two chances to break through, the first cleared off the line in the 34th minute by Berat Djimsiti following a Federico Chiesa cross and the other saved by Pierluigi Gollini with 14 minutes remaining.
To add to Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo’s woes forward Chiesa limped off after an hour.
Ante Rebic put Milan ahead in the 13th minute with Rafael Leao, taking the place of Ibrahimovic, missing a chance for a second minutes later.
A Mattia Destro header against his former club pulled 14th-placed Genoa level eight minutes before the break.
Mario Mandzukic came off the bench for his first appearance in over two months just after the hour and had a role in the winning goal, which Scamacca guided past his own goalkeeper from a Hakan Calhanoglu corner.
Genoa missed a double chance to pull level again with four minutes to go when Andrea Masiello and Valon Behrami were denied by Simon Kjaer and Fikayo Tomori’s goal-line clearance to hand Milan their first home win since February 7.
The seven-time European champions are aiming to return to the Champions League for the first time since the 2013-2014 season.
The elimination of both Barcelona and Juventus from the Champions League means neither Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo will feature in the quarter-finals of Europe’s elite club competition, which this week marked a year since matches were last played in full stadiums.
The end of the Messi-Ronaldo era has been approaching for some time and both going out of the Champions League, the tournament that together they dominated for so long, in the last 16 is another step closer to that point.
At least one of them had made it to the quarter-finals in each of the previous 15 campaigns, although Ronaldo had gone out while Messi was injured in the latter stages in the first year of that run when Barcelona won the trophy in 2005/06.
Before that, in 2004/05, Ronaldo had just turned 20 as his Manchester United side lost to AC Milan in the last 16. Messi was still 17 and just breaking through at Barcelona as they lost to Chelsea at the same juncture.
Between them, they have won the Champions League nine times over the period.
They are by some distance the all-time top scorers in the competition, with Ronaldo on 134 goals followed by Messi on 120. The next highest scorer is Robert Lewandowski with 72.
Over 12 straight seasons from 2008 to 2019 one of them was the top scorer in the competition every year. Now the latter stages will go ahead without them.
Ronaldo, who turned 36 last month, cut a frustrated figure for much of Juve’s game against Porto on Tuesday as the Italians went out on away goals.
He didn’t score in either leg against Porto. Two of his four goals in the group stage were penalties.
“With him, we usually start with a goal’s advantage,” said Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo. “But it can also happen to the greatest champions not to score.”
Messi, 34 in June, scored both Barcelona’s goals in their 5-2 aggregate defeat by Paris Saint-Germain, including a stunning long-range hit in the second leg, but a later penalty miss killed off any hopes his team had of a remarkable comeback.
It is now over to the new superstars, most notably Kylian Mbappe and Erling Braut Haaland, as the Champions League reaches its business end.
However what the competition is really crying out for, even more than Messi and Ronaldo, is fans in the stands.
– Not the same –
The last time a knockout tie was played before a crowd was exactly a year ago, on March 11 last year, when Liverpool faced Atletico Madrid in front of more than 52,000 people packed into Anfield.
It was the same day that the World Health Organization first described the Covid-19 outbreak as a pandemic.
Other European matches that midweek had already been played behind closed doors.
On Thursday, March 12, two Europa League last 16 first-leg games went ahead in front of crowds, with close to 50,000 inside Ibrox to see Rangers take on Bayer Leverkusen.
By that weekend football had ground to a halt almost everywhere as lockdowns took hold. The sport began to return in Europe a couple of months later but, one year on, clubs are straining under the weight of the economic hit of playing games behind closed doors.
The sense of occasion has essentially gone too, even if some supporters managed to break France’s strict night-time curfew to let off fireworks right outside the ground during PSG’s game against Barcelona on Wednesday.
Instead of a packed Anfield, Liverpool’s home game against RB Leipzig on Wednesday was relocated to an empty stadium in Budapest, where Manchester City will face Borussia Moenchengladbach next week.
The football remains of a high quality, but it is not the same.
“I said it 5,000 times, football would not be the game we love,” without fans, said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp this week.
“Nobody would be interested, nobody would want to watch it in a stadium. I can’t wait for the day when people are allowed again to go to the stadium.”
Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri has told Cristiano Ronaldo not to worry about his slow resumption to the season, insisting on Sunday the Portuguese star will return to being “the most incredible player of all time”.
They will play their first Serie A match in over three months against Bologna on Monday, four days after losing the Italian Cup final to Napoli.
The Serie A leaders failed to score in their two Cup matches since the Italian season resumed following the coronavirus lockdown, with goalless draws against AC Milan in the semi-finals, where Ronaldo missed a penalty, and with Napoli in the final before a 4-2 defeat on penalties.
“I spoke to Cristiano again yesterday. He must not worry about trust,” Sarri said.
“He must not lose confidence, as soon as he regains his brilliance he will return to being the most incredible player of all time.
“At the moment, physically he cannot give the maximum.”
Ronaldo, 35, has scored 25 goals for Juventus in all competitions this season.
He spent the coronavirus lockdown in his native Portugal.
“We must not forget that we have arrived after being inactive for 60 days and the physical brilliance cannot be at the highest levels,” said Sarri.
Ronaldo also failed to find the net in Juventus’ last two matches before the lockdown, having scored in nine straight matches before that.
Juventus have just a one-point advantage over Lazio in the Serie A table, as they target a ninth consecutive Scudetto.
The 61-year-old urged his players to “turn the page” quickly having lost two finals this season, after the Italian Super Cup loss to Lazio in December.
“Losing a trophy is always painful, it hurts, it gives disappointment and bitterness, but this is the situation and we must not beat ourselves up,” said the former Chelsea coach.
“We have to turn the page and think about our next games. We hope to improve quickly in the next 10 days, both in physical and mental condition.”
Sarri, meanwhile, dismissed reports he had a training ground bust-up with Bosnia midfielder Miralem Pjanic.
“The story of my quarrel with him is fake news,” said Sarri.
“Pjanic is one of the guys I talk to the most and, like the whole team in the last two games, he has played well in the opening minutes, dropping a bit during the game.”
The Portuguese star is not the only player who has had to shave his hair as Manchester United star, Paul Pogba, also did the same.
Pogba had on Wednesday posted about the new hairstyle on Instagram as the lockdown over coronavirus continues.
“This is Paul Pogba, AKA ‘La Pioche,'” he said in the video. “I’m at the PP Arena. This is where I spend most of my time at home in confinement.
“I’m with the little one, we’re playing football, fooling around I dribble past him until he grows up and does the same to me!”
He added that “These are the things you can do at home to stay safe if you have a garden, if you’re inside even in a small apartment with a foam ball, like we used to do back in the days – we play, we break things, we say sorry to our parents and go on!
“I’m kidding! I’ll see you soon, on the pitch, not this one, the big one!”