What happens when Cristiano Ronaldo ends a goal drought? (2022)

It was certainly worth the wait. Cristiano Ronaldo ended his six-game goal drought in spectacular fashion as Manchester United beat Brightonon Tuesday to move back into the top four.

Picking up the ball 40 yards out, he ran purposefully at the Brighton defence, took a step to get the ball onto his right foot and then unleashed an unstoppable shot from just outside the box.

After a few weeks of barely-disguised frustration and rumours of a 'completely fractured' relationship with interim manager Ralf Rangnick, the main man was back in business.

Cristiano Ronaldo was back on song as Manchester United earned a crucial win over Brighton

The Portuguese star fired home from the edge of the box to open the scoring at Old Trafford

The goal ended Ronaldo's longest spell without scoring a club goal in over a decade, since going 546 goalless minutes for Real Madrid between May and September 2010. The goal against Brighton stopped the clock at 587 minutes.

So what next? Well, United continue their pursuit of a top four finish when they travel to Elland Road to play bitter rivals Leeds today.

Then next week, they take on a team sick to the back teeth of the sight of Ronaldo. He has scored 25 times against Atletico Madrid, who await in the Champions League last 16, and only Sevilla (27 goals) have suffered more punishment from the forward.

Ronaldo decided against his usual celebration to perform a knee slide in front of the fans

It represented a contrast with the sulky Ronaldo we've seen in recent outings for United

That bodes well for United as they seek to kick on. But also of encouragement is that Ronaldo generally follows goal droughts with goal gluts or, at the very least, a strike in a game of real importance.

Sportsmail takes a closer look at Ronaldo's previous barren spells and what happened next.


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Let's discount Ronaldo's first three seasons at Old Trafford, when he was more of a dazzling winger than a regular goalscorer and begin in 2006-07, when he netted 23 times. It was his first prolific campaign.

But it wasn't without difficulties. In early April, he failed to score in matches against Blackburn and Portsmouth in the Premier League, plus the first leg of a Champions League quarter-final against Roma.

Sir Alex Ferguson's team actually lost to both Roma and Portsmouth and if you also include a blank for Portugal in a 1-1 draw away to Serbia in Euro 2008 qualifying, Ronaldo, then 22, was four games without a goal.

No problem. He returned to form in stunning fashion by scoring two goals on one of United's finest-ever European nights - a 7-1 thrashing of Roma at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo celebrates scoring in United's 7-1 thrashing of Roma in 2007 - after a barren patch

Man United fixtures

Premier League unless stated

Today Leeds United (A)

February 23 Atletico Madrid (A)

Champions League last-16, first leg

February 26 Watford (H)

March 6 Manchester City (A)

March 12 Tottenham (H)

March 15 Atletico Madrid (H)

Champions League last-16, second leg

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Confidence restored, Ronaldo went on to score against Watford in the FA Cup semi-final, AC Milan in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final and a penalty winner in a crucial league game at Man City. Important goals in big games.

A year later and something similar happened. United were chasing both the Premier League and the Champions League and Ronaldo went four games without scoring in April.

This included a 2-1 loss at Chelsea that blew the title race wide open in which he only came off the bench with 30 minutes left and the first leg of a Champions League semi-final against Barcelona in which he missed a penalty.

Lesser players might have buckled after four games without a goal but Ronaldo produced vital goals - two goals in a 4-1 win over West Ham, a pressure penalty in the final day title-decider at Wigan and, most important of all, a towering header against Chelsea in the Champions League final in Moscow.

In 2008-09, his final season with United, Ronaldo endured the last truly huge goal drought of his career when he went 11 games without scoring during the winter.

Ronaldo missed a penalty against Barcelona in first leg of 2008 Champions League semi-final

But he re-found his form to lead United to a Premier League and Champions League double

That only ended when he netted a penalty in the Carling Cup semi-final against Championship side Derby but it proved the catalyst for an important late season burst.

Ronaldo would score 15 more between late January and the end of the campaign, including a stunning winner away to Porto in Europe, two crucial goals against Aston Villa before Federico Macheda's famous winner and two breath-taking strikes against Arsenal to take United to another Champions League final.

So Ronaldo's first spell at United was full of instances when he bounced back from a dry spell with a glut of significant goals and they'll certainly hope, aged 37, he can repeat the feat now.

Ronaldo scored from an outrageous distance as United overcame Porto in 2009


Ronaldo's goal record in nine seasons at Real Madrid is superhuman. His returns, chronologically by season, read: 33, 53, 60, 55, 51, 61, 51, 42 and 44.

So it's fair to say that goal droughts were few and far between. If he went three games without scoring there was something wrong.

But the aforementioned drought in 2010, which came either side of the summer, ended in late September with a penalty against Espanyol.

Ronaldo then went another two games without scoring before something really clicked. He embarked on a streak of seven games for club and country in which he netted an astonishing 13 times.

This included a four-goal haul in a 6-1 win over Racing Santander at the Bernabeu.

He scored four times against Racing Santander during a brilliant scoring run in 2010

He would actually go another four games without success in February 2011 but responded in style with a hat-trick against Malaga.

From then on, it's difficult to find a spell of even three games without a Ronaldo goal as he scaled ever loftier heights. In November 2012, for example, he didn't score in three but then netted against Atletico.

In 2014-15, any slowing down of the scoring rate was quickly rectified. He didn't score against Atletico, Celta Vigo and Almeria in consecutive games towards the end of the season, then smashed a hat-trick past Sevilla.

A sluggish opening to the 2015-16 season, which included league matches against Sporting Gijon and Real Betis, plus a Portugal Euro qualifier in Albania, was followed up by a ridiculous five-goal performance at Espanyol.

Celebrating one of the five goals he scored for Real against Espanyol in September 2015

Clearly annoyed by a 4-0 home defeat by rivals Barcelona in late November 2015, he scored seven in his next four.

So when at Real Madrid, even the smallest goal drought was emphatically rectified and consistency usually equalled success.


Ronaldo's three seasons with Juventus were just as impressive in terms of numbers with returns of 28, 37 and 36 goals. Once again, goal droughts are few and far between.

But once again, there is clear evidence to suggest Ronaldo often returns to form in spectacular fashion. In March 2019, for instance, he had gone three games without a goal before the hat-trick against Atletico Madrid that overturned a two-goal first leg deficit and took Juve into the Champions League last eight.

Ronaldo's hat-trick inspired a stunning turnaround against Atletico in the Champions League

The following season, he would go four matches without scoring either side of the Covid lockdown. But he then responded in style with seven goals in his next six outings to help Juventus win another Serie A title.

There was another four-game drought last season in January but Ronaldo returned to form with a brace in a Coppa Italia win away to Inter Milan and backed that up with a league goal against Roma.

So while form is temporary, Ronaldo has proved time after time that class is permanent. As Manchester United return to European action in a crucial phase in their season, they will hope his latest drought is over with.

Last season, Ronaldo recovered from a mini-slump for Juventus with a goal against Inter Milan

Ronaldo's droughts of four games or more since 2006

2006-07 (Man United) - Four game drought for United and Portugal in March/April then scored twice in 7-1 win over Roma.

2007-08 (Man United) - four game drought in April then scored four in three games to help win Premier League and Champions League.

2008-09 (Man United) - 11 game drought in November-January broken against Derby in the Carling Cup then scored more regularly.

2010-11 (Real Madrid) - Four game drought at start of the season, then scored against Espanyol. Then had 14 for club and country by the end of October.

Four games without scoring in February then scored hat-trick in 7-0 win over Malaga.

2019-20 (Juventus) - Four game drought - scored seven in his next six.

2020-21 (Juventus) - Four game drought, returned with two goals against Inter in Coppa Italia and important goal vs Roma.

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