Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are considered as the greatest football stars in the modern era, having enjoyed a healthy rivalry for more than a decade. The two have shared a total of 11 Ballon d'Or awards, with Messi winning one more than the former Real Madrid man. Here's a look back at the time the two footballing greats faced off for the first time in their careers, which led to the beginning of the long Messi vs Ronaldo debate.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi faced off on the field for the first time in 2008 when the former was still at Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson's side were drawn against Barcelona in the semi-final of the Champions League. The first leg of the tie was played at Camp Nou. The game wasn't short on excitement as the two sides strived to secure the final berth. Ronaldo was having a decent game until his attempted header was blocked by Gabriel Milito's hand, leading to a penalty. However, the Portuguese winger failed to convert from the spot as Camp Nou roared in wild fashion. The game ended in a goalless draw and the tie was left to be decided at Old Trafford.
Manchester United had the task to finish off the game at Old Trafford. The Premier League giants enjoyed a great record in front of the home crowd that season. In the 14th minute, Cristiano Ronaldo attempted to penetrate the penalty area. However, his effort received a setback, having been halted by the Barcelona defence. Just when the ball was deflected at the back, it rolled towards Scholes. The English midfielder acting in a fraction of a second, striking the ball into the net, leaving Victor Valdes clueless.
The match ended in Man United's favour as Cristiano Ronaldo's side secured a spot in the final with a 1-0 aggregate score. They subsequently went on to win the Champions League that season defeating Chelsea in the final. Ronaldo had a decent game as he scored the opener but went on to miss a crucial penalty in the tie-breaker. Nevertheless, the young Portuguese was crowned Player of the Year as he won his first Ballon d'Or, thus marking off the beginning of an epic rivalry with Lionel Messi that has since gripped the world for more than a decade.