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When did Cristiano Ronaldo last score a free-kick? Manchester United star struggling with set-pieces

Cristiano Ronaldo may have scored 55 free-kicks throughout his career, but is it time the Portuguese forward hands over set-pieces to someone else?

During his rise to becoming one of the best players in the world, a lot of the praise given to Cristiano Ronaldo was down to his ability to score in a multitude of ways.

Whether it was his right foot, weaker foot, header or set-piece, it seemed the Portuguese forward was deadly from every situation.

However, while his famed free-kick technique previously instilled fear in goalkeepers, they probably sigh in relief when Ronaldo steps up nowadays.

That's because the Manchester United star has scored just one free-kick since 2017. Yes - one in the last five years.

When did Ronaldo last score a free-kick?

Cristiano Ronaldo lines up a free-kick for Juventus

Ronaldo's last set-piece success came during his time in Juventus, when he rifled home a free-kick against The Old Lady's rivals Torino.

The match took place on July 4, 2020 - exactly 600 days ago. Ronaldo's second half strike added to Juventus' 2-0 lead and contributed to a 4-1 win.
It turned out to be his only free-kick goal in the colours of Juventus, before completing a move to Manchester United in the summer of 2021.

Despite taking five free-kicks for United since his return, Ronaldo is yet to add to his tally in the famed red jersey.

Setting the tone at Old Trafford

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring vs Portsmouth, 2008
During Ronaldo's first stint at Old Trafford, the budding youngster made an impression as a spectacular free-kick taker, with some of his best strikes coming from set-pieces.

His 'knuckleball' technique has inspired a new generation of footballers to emulate his style, with the swerving and unpredictable pattern of the ball making it hard for goalkeepers to anticipate.

It was a technique that saw Ronaldo score a remarkable 14 free-kicks for Manchester United during his six year spell (2003-2009).

Perhaps his most memorable set-piece came against Portsmouth in 2008, when his shot flew past a rooted David James.
Ronaldo also managed to score two free-kicks in one game against Stoke City, while his long-ranged effort against Arsenal in the Champions League semi-finals summarised just how difficult his swerving strikes were to save.
Having scored 11 in the Premier League, Ronaldo ranks fifth on the list of most free-kicks scored in the top flight, with only Gianfranco Zola (12), Thierry Henry (12), James Ward-Prowse (12) and David Beckham (18) scoring more.

Hitting his prime at the Bernabeu

Cristiano Ronaldo lines up a free-kick for Real Madrid

Ronaldo was in his prime at Real Madrid, and his free-kick stats echo that statement.

After completing an £80million move to become a Galactico, Ronaldo enjoyed his most prolific season when it came to free-kicks, scoring six in the 2009/10 season.

He followed it up with a further five in the following season, and ended his time at Real Madrid in 2018 having netted 32 free-kicks. But as each season passed, Ronaldo became less and less successful from dead ball situations.

Season-by-season comparison at Real Madrid:

2009/10 season: 6
2010/11 season: 5
2011/12 season: 4
2012/13 season: 3
2013/14 season: 5
2014/15 season: 2
2015/16 season: 3
2016/17 season: 3
2017/18 season: 1

His last free-kick in the colours of Real Madrid came in 2017 during the Club World Cup final, where his goal ended up being the winner.

Torrid in Turin

Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus, Serie A

Having only scored one free-kick in his final season in Madrid, Ronaldo's free-kick wizardry was already beginning to fade, and the Portuguese striker continued to struggle in Italy.

It took Ronaldo a staggering 43 attempts to finally score a free-kick for Juventus, while teammate Miralem Pjanic - who has scored 22 free-kicks throughout his career - agonisingly watched on.

The free-kick against Torino proved to be Ronaldo's only in a Juventus shirt, despite making 98 appearances for The Old Lady.

Time for a new set-piece taker at Manchester United?

Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes and Alex Telles

It now seems as though Ronaldo's reputation when standing over a free-kick has flipped entirely, with most now expecting the ball to strike the wall or soar into the stands more times than it hits the target.

Ronaldo has shared the responsibility with fellow Portuguese playmaker Bruno Fernandes since arriving back at Old Trafford. But with Manchester United yet to score from a free-kick this season, is it time for a new set-piece specialist?

Bruno Fernandes' record of two goals from 35 free-kicks while at Manchester United is a slightly better record than his compatriot, plus the 27-year-old scored eight times from free-kicks during his time at Sporting Lisbon.
If Ralf Rangnick would instead prefer an entirely new taker, then Alex Telles is certainly capable of hitting the target. The Brazilian left-back has scored three free-kicks throughout his career.

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