Failing to score within the first 10 minutes of a match is not usually a disaster for any striker, even one of Cristiano Ronaldo’s calibre, but in doing so at the start of Tuesday’s Premier League clash with Brighton & Hove Albion the Manchester United forward passed an unwanted personal milestone.
Going into the Brighton game, Ronaldo had not scored a goal in his previous 537 minutes of play (excluding stoppage time), one of the longest goal droughts of his club career since he ended his first spell at United in 2009 to join Real Madrid in a then-world record transfer for £80 million as one of the game’s elite forwards and holder of the Ballon d’Or.
The longest the Portugal captain had previously gone without scoring a club goal since that move to the Bernabeu was his 546-minute barren streak between May and September 2010. But Ronaldo surpassed that total after Brighton kept him at bay on Tuesday until the 51st minute. The 37-year-old’s strike from the edge of the box ultimately helped his team to a much-needed 2-0 win and boosted their hopes of finishing in the top four, but it also marked the end of his goal drought at 587 minutes (per ESPN’s Stats & Information), his longest in more than 11½ years.
What’s more, it took Ronaldo until his seventh appearance of 2022 before scoring his first goal of the year — the most games he has gone without scoring at the start of a calendar year since 2003, when as a teenager he took 23 appearances across the end of his time at Sporting CP and his first eight games for United before getting off the mark. Ronaldo then went five games before scoring his first goal in each of the next three calendar years, but never has he started a year so poorly since he evolved from a wily winger into a supremely prolific forward who has scored more than 800 senior goals for club and country and is the all-time top scorer in men’s internationals and the Champions League.
Ronaldo’s goal drought as a whole
Played: 587 minutes (before goal vs. Brighton)
On target: 8