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Ronaldo answers critics with a career-best goal

WORLD player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo answered his skeptics, including manager Alex Ferguson, with a career-best goal that sent defending champion Manchester United into the Champions League semifinals on Wednesday.

Ronaldo's spectacular long-range strike provided a 1-0 victory over FC Porto and a 3-2 aggregate score in the quarterfinal series.

"It is the best I have scored," Ronaldo said. "It was a fantastic strike and I can't wait to see it again on DVD. I am very happy with it."

The Portugal forward began his run from inside the Porto half in the sixth minute and sent a rising shot from 40 meters past diving goalkeeper Helton into the top corner of goal for only his second score of the competition.

"When Anderson gave me the ball I think straight away to turn and shoot in the goal and I score a fantastic goal," Ronaldo said.

The goal came only days after Ferguson scolded the young winger for a turnover that led to Porto's opening goal in the 2-2 first-leg draw at Old Trafford.

On Wednesday, Ferguson was just as stunned as the 45,000 fans at the Stadium of Dragon.


"Unbelievable," Ferguson said. "A magnificent hit, absolutely unbelievable ... the goalkeeper's got no chance.

"We wanted to start the game quickly with good tempo ... but to get a start like that, no one can expect it, no one can expect that type of goal."

Ronaldo, a former Sporting prodigy who was jeered with every touch by local fans, created several more United chances before finally being denied by Helton again in the 90th minute. He did not turn possession over easily, either.

The performance was especially impressive since it came in his native Portugal, where Ronaldo has failed to shine since joining United in 2003. Ronaldo let out a mighty fist pump to celebrate victory - the first for an English club at Porto in 12 tries - when referee Massimo Busacca blew the final whistle.

"This will give us confidence," said Ronaldo, who has scored only 17 goals after a season where he netted 41. "The last five games we didn't play great and I hope this will change that."


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