Ronaldo eyes first Serie A top scorer prize after latest goal landmark

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FILE PHOTO: Italian Super Cup - Final - Juventus v Napoli

(Reuters) - Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score at least 20 goals in the last 12 seasons in a top five European league on Tuesday to continue his charge towards sealing one of the few individual awards left for him to win: Serie A top scorer.

The Portuguese forward guided a composed finish past Spezia goalkeeper Ivan Provedel in a 3-0 Serie A win for the Italian champions to mark the 600th league appearance of his career in typical fashion.

He has now hit the 20-goal mark in every season since his debut campaign at Real Madrid in 2009-10, with his highest tally coming in 2014-15 when he scored 48 goals in 35 La Liga games for the Spanish club.

The 36-year-old is currently two goals clear of Inter Milan's Romelu Lukaku at the summit of the Serie A scoring charts as he targets his first 'capocannoniere' crown in Italy.

Ronaldo scored 21 goals in his debut season in Turin in 2018-19 to finish fourth in the league scoring charts, five behind top scorer Fabio Quagliarella of Sampdoria.

The following year he found the net 31 times, but was denied top spot by the sensational form of Lazio's Ciro Immobile, who equalled the single-season scoring record in Serie A with 36 strikes.

Ronaldo has picked up back-to-back league titles and the 2018-19 Player of the Season award since arriving in Italy, but the Serie A top scorer prize remains unclaimed for now.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner won the Premier League Golden Boot with Manchester United in 2007-08 and finished as La Liga top scorer on three separate occasions during his spell with Real Madrid.

He has been Champions League top scorer seven times to become the competition's all-time top scorer with 134 goals and won the European Golden Shoe four times.

Ronaldo was hailed as the most prolific professional goalscorer in the history of the game in January after notching his 760th career goal, but the record is much contested and global governing body FIFA does not keep an official tally.

Although Ronaldo is enjoying another prolific season, his team is lagging behind in their bid to claim a tenth consecutive Serie A title.

Andrea Pirlo's side are third in the standings, seven points behind Inter in first and three behind second-placed AC Milan with 14 games left to play.

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Christian Radnedge)