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When Ashley Cole put on the perfect performance in legendary battle against Cristiano Ronaldo

Ryan Sidle

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When Ashley Cole put on the perfect performance in legendary battle against Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo may have got the better of most defenders during his career but 19-years-ago Ashley Cole proved why he's the forward's toughest ever opponent.

In later years of his career a defender coming up against Ronaldo would have been hoping to stop him getting a shot away, such was his goal scoring prowess.

When he was younger though the five time Ballon d'Or winner was better known for taking on defenders out wide and making them look very stupid.

His Manchester United debut back in 2003 was an instant warning to his upcoming opponents at just how good he could be and instant confirmation that Sir Alex Ferguson was right to sign him.

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However not everyone succumbed to the Portugal star's trickery on the pitch quite so easily, with then Arsenal star Cole quite adept at handling him.

There was one incident when Ronaldo left the left-back on his backside after being turned inside out, during their first time facing each other.

After that though the former Chelsea defender would go on to be the former Sporting man's toughest opponent and that was particularly evident in the summer of 2004.

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England faced Portugal in the quarter finals of the Euros and it was an epic battle between two of the greatest in the world, which the defender got the best of despite the Three Lions conceding twice.


Hosts Portugal qualified top of their group despite losing to Greece in the opening match of the tournament whilst England's loss to France, after throwing away a lead late on, led to them finishing as runners up.

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That set up the game in the first knockout round and Michael Owen opened the scoring after just three minutes, before Wayne Rooney's injury in the 27th minute caused a huge blow for Sven Goran Eriksson's team.

Despite the loss of their best player England still looked set to make the final four before Helder Postiga scored with seven minutes of normal time left.

Rui Costa put Portugal ahead with 10 minutes of extra time left before Frank Lampard's goal took it to penalties, which the home side inevitably won.

Despite his team scoring twice, Ronaldo clearly had a tough time and admitted in 2016 that Cole had been his toughest ever opponent.

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"Over the years I had some great battles with Ashley Cole, he does not give you a second to breathe," the 38-year-old said.

"He was such a tenacious player when he was at his peak, quick, tough in the tackle. You knew it would never be an easy game."

Featured Image Credit: UEFA

Topics: Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal, England, Ashley Cole, Football

Ryan Sidle
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