Ronaldo’s selfless penalty gesture pleases Real coach Zidane

Posted Sunday, February 25, 2018 by PA

Ronaldo’s selfless penalty gesture pleases Real coach Zidane

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane lauded Cristiano Ronaldo’s ‘incredible’ gesture after he surrendered the chance for a hat-trick against Alaves by letting under-fire team-mate Karim Benzema take over penalty duties.

Having continued his red-hot goalscoring form with a brace in either half at the Bernabeu, Ronaldo looked to have been handed the chance to net the 50th treble of his career when Gareth Bale was brought down in the area late on.

Had Ronaldo scored from the 89th-minute spot-kick he would also have become only the second player to reach 300 LaLiga goals after Lionel Messi – although there is some debate as to whether the Portugal superstar actually reached the milestone with his second goal on Saturday.

But Real’s regular penalty-taker opted to pass on the opportunity to Benzema, who has found himself facing increasing criticism and pressure during a season which had seen him net only three league goals before today.

Benzema, who had impressed in the match, coolly slotted home from 12 yards to complete a 4-0 win, and leave his fellow Frenchman Zidane thrilled.

Zidane told a press conference: “I was very pleased with the gesture that Cristiano made, it’s very important for me.

“Football is a team game and that was a nice gesture, offering it to Karim.

“Karim deserved that, he deserved a goal because he had a very good game.”

Zidane added of the former Lyon striker: “He plays with a lot of pressure on him, but he’s used to all that.

“The most important thing is the atmosphere in the dressing room. We’ve had very difficult moments, but this dressing room is the top, the best.

“The gesture was incredible.

“It shows that between the two of them and between the entire team there is a good spirit.”

Bale, who has also had his critics and saw his long-term future with Madrid brought into question by the Spanish media this week, scored Real’s other goal in an influential display by the Wales international.

Zidane said of the club’s record signing: “That’s what we want to see from the players.

“He’s had a great game, played the full 90 minutes and did very well.

“He played on the left, a position that he hasn’t played much recently, and his movement was good.

“It’s a team game, as I always say, and today they’ve all done well.”

The win means Zidane’s men have now accumulated 18 points from their last seven games, scoring 30 goals in the process, to turn up the heat on second-placed Atletico Madrid.

Zidane added: “I’m happy with the result and how we went about our business. We scored four goals and kept a clean sheet, we have to keep this up.

“We’re finding a bit more consistency in our play now and our concentration has improved. We’ve regained our confidence a bit, which is crucial for the players.

“We must concentrate on continuing these positive performances in the upcoming games.”


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