Clubs, Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid, Story, UEFA Champions League

Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t show any signs of his La Liga struggles, netting two goals and providing an assist in Real’s win over APOEL.
Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane praised Cristiano Ronaldo’s performance as ‘special’ after his brace helped the side beat APOEL 6-0.

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo accused the media of twisting his words and declined to be interviewed after scoring twice to set yet another record in Tuesday’s 6-0 Champions League Group H win at APOEL Nicosia.

Luka Modric, Karim Benzema [two] and Nacho were also on the scoresheet as the defending champions progressed to the round of 16 behind Tottenham, who secured top spot in the group with a 2-1 win at Borussia Dortmund.

Ronaldo’s brace took him to 18 Champions League goals in 2017, breaking his own record for most strikes in the competition in any calendar year, and also to 100 goals with Madrid in UEFA competitions.

However the Portugal captain was not keen to discuss the achievement afterwards, seemingly upset at how his comments about Madrid’s weakened squad (made after early November’s 3-1 defeat at Tottenham) led to a public disagreement with club captain Sergio Ramos.

“I’m not talking, as when I talk I’m not understood,” Ronaldo said without stopping in the stadium mixed zone. “And then you [media] talk about something I did not say.”

Benzema’s goals against APOEL also made him France’s all-time top scorer in the Champions League on 53, two more than former Arsenal forward Thierry Henry, and came after he had failed to score in the competition in eight games going back 279 days.

The 29-year-old now has 184 goals for Madrid, two more than club legend Paco Gento, and sits sixth in Los Blancos‘ goal scoring charts.

“I’ve been a long time waiting for this goal… I will never forget it,” he tweeted afterwards. “I am proud to outdo legends like Thierry Henry in the Champions League and Gento in Real Madrid’s history.”

“It’s not important how many minutes had passed since I scored,” Benzema told BeIN sports. “There are times when you don’t score, other times you score every week. I don’t listen to what is said, just do my job. Whoever is not happy, that is their problem.”

Manager Zinedine Zidane told his postmatch news conference he was happy for the two forwards to be back on the scoresheet, after media criticism following the weekend’s 0-0 La Liga draw at Atletico Madrid had included Marca saying the pair’s La Liga record of one goal each after 12 games was among the worst in Europe this season and in Madrid’s club history.

“It’s good to see Cristiano and Benzema getting amongst the goals,” added Marcelo. “During our poor run we’ve created the chances, but the results didn’t go our way. We created a lot of chances [tonight] and have regained the confidence which had had supposedly deserted us.

“We don’t think about the people who try to knock down what we’ve achieved. The performance is never perfect and we need to do more than just the usual to keep people quiet. I am even happier than normal as we created many chances. We’ve recovered the confidence we’d lost.”

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan

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