Fri, Sep 15, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Zidane hails Ronaldo’s contribution in Real victory


Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo, left, puts the ball past APOEL Nicosia goalkeeper Boy Waterman during their Champions League match at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane on Wednesday said that defenses across Europe should beware of Cristiano Ronaldo, as he is only just getting started.

The Portuguese star returned to action after a month by scoring twice in a 3-0 win over APOEL and could have scored on three further occasions before he doubled Real’s lead from the penalty spot in the second half, while he was later denied a hat-trick by an offside flag.

“If he had been in better shape, he’d have scored four goals,” Zidane told reporters. “He is the best in the world, he is always there when we want him, he always scores goals. We know what Cristiano offers.”

Ronaldo was hit with a five-game domestic ban — with the fifth game he will miss to be played at the weekend — for pushing a referee in their Copa del Rey game against Barcelona on Aug. 13.

“He’s a vital player for us and I hope he stays on this run even though we won’t have him on Sunday,” Zidane said.

“I hope that’s the last game this season where he won’t be able to play for us,” he said.

Real badly missed Ronaldo in draws against Valencia and Levante UD, with Bale looking unsuited to the center forward role and Karim Benzema being forced off injured early in the latter game, leaving the inexperienced Borja Mayoral as the team’s only fit natural striker at the time.

“We have definitely lacked some sharpness up front recently, but we can’t always win every game by loads of goals as football is becoming more equal and every opponent is strong, but we all know that Cristiano always has goals in him and is fundamental to us,” Ronaldo’s teammate Sergio Ramos said. “His quality is unquestionable and whenever he is around Madrid are always going to benefit from his presence.”

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