The Republic of Ireland shocked Wales 1-0 on Monday evening, securing their place in the European playoffs and ending the World Cup dream of the Welsh golden generation. The injured Gareth Bale could only watch from the stands as James McClean’s 57th minute strike hushed a previously electric Cardiff City Stadium and late forays forward proved fruitless for the Welsh.
Ronaldo always turns up in crucial moments. CR7 gave Real Madrid a 2-0 lead in the 49th minute off of a perfect feed from Gareth Bale, who already netted a gorgeous volley in the first half.
Cristiano wasn't done. 30 minutes later he ran behind a perfect pass from Luka Modric and fired one near post.
The Portuguese striker has now scored 25 goals in 20 games against German clubs in the Champions League.
Real Madrid came into their match against Real Betis Wednesday four points behind Barcelona in La Liga, needing a win.
Fortunately, they got Cristiano Ronaldo back from suspension, and he showed during the Champions League last week that he hadn't accumulated any rust during his break.
Gareth Bale has done it again. Perhaps best known for his stunning sprint against Barcelona in the 2014 Copa del Rey Final (one that had Usain Bolt saying: “It’s a goal any sprinter in the world would like to score one day. He’s the fastest footballer in the world at the moment.”), Bale has scored another scorching effort for Real Madrid.
There’s no fighting the feeling that the Champions League group stage has become more and more of a nonevent over the past few years. Over the course of this week’s action, we watched Chelsea hammer Qarabag 6-0, PSG pummel Celtic 5-0 and Manchester City put four unanswered past Feyenoord. Even the marquee matchup between Barcelona and Juventus had the feeling of an International Champions Cup match being played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
With only a handful of matches remaining in World Cup qualifying, it’s become clear which nations are in serious danger of missing out on Russia next summer. While all will become clear in October, here are 25 global superstars who, if World Cup qualifying ended today, would either fail to appear at the tournament or would need to navigate a playoff to qualify.