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Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi: Who has scored the most match-winning goals?

 

Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi

Cristiano Ronaldo is the ultimate clutch player.

We've run out of times that the Juventus superstar has popped up with dramatic winning goals or single-handedly instigated a comeback that looked impossible.

Yes, yes, we're well aware that this penchant for escapology failed him during the Champions League elimination against Porto, but even football's Harry Houdini can't pull it off every time.

Ronaldo: Football's ultimate clutch player

Besides, we're inclined to think that Ronaldo could be forgiven for the odd mishap when he's previously rescued his side in Europe with hat-tricks against Wolfsburg and Atletico Madrid.

Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi


But even when Ronaldo doesn't pop up with his trademark winning goal, such as Juventus' exit from Europe, the sheer threat of it often instills a fear in his opponents that is utterly unique to him.

However, this is Ronaldo we're talking about and like the other great duos of life - Paul and Barry Chuckle, Nando's and chicken - we can't mention him without comparing him to Lionel Messi.

Comparisons to Messi

If you think that makes us 'basic' in the world of football, then so be it, but we can't resist comparing arguably the two greatest players of all time before they hang up their boots in the years to come.

And besides, the social media narratives surrounding both players can often greatly impact the way that Ronaldo and Messi are viewed such as their respective strengths and weaknesses.

What we're alluding to there, by the way, is testing whether Ronaldo really is the king of winning goals compared to Messi when you turn to the overall statistics and not just the biggest games.

Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi


Messi vs Ronaldo: Match-winning goals

And fear not, we aren't here to drag Ronaldo's reputation through the mud because his status as football's match-winner in chief is not only justified but completely unavoidable in the data.

Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi


Clear victory for Ronaldo

Well, long story short: no. We referred to our trusty friends Transfermarkt to look at Messi and Ronaldo's goals across their entire club careers and once again, there's no debating the winner.

While Messi has helped him to 179 match-winning strikes across his 768 games for Barcelona, Ronaldo has outdone him with 207 game-deciding goals in 886 outings in the club game.  

Now, of course, the elephant in the room here is that Ronaldo has played more games, but make no mistake that the margin is substantial and the Portuguese boasts far more high-profile examples.

So, sure, it by no means settles the GOAT debate but it does, in my eyes, go to show that if your team needs a goal in the closing minutes of a game, then Ronaldo is the best person to call.

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