Ronaldo 'goal drought' ends as Real punish Schalke
After three games without a goal Ronaldo was not himself – but he banished all doubts last night
Schalke 0 Real Madrid 2. Cristiano Ronaldo is back. That was the message from Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti after watching his star striker find the net in the 2-0 defeat of Schalke in the Last 16 Champions League clash.
Ronaldo had been without a goal in three games – a veritable famine for a player who recently scooped the Fifa Player of the Year award for the second consecutive season – and one or two voices were beginning to wonder if all was not well with the Portuguese ace.
It took Ronaldo just 26 minutes to silence the doubters as he out-jumped Schalke keeper Timon Wellenreuther to head home Dani Carvajal's cross.
It was goal number 58 in 58 Champions League appearances for Ronaldo, an extraordinary tally and one that put the holders on course for their tenth straight win in the Champions League (equalling Bayern Munich's record, set in 2013).
Wellenreuther prevented Ronaldo scoring a second with an athletic save from a dipping free-kick and Schalke's task was made all the more difficult when they lost striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to injury at the end of the first-half.
The Germans should have equalised when Felix Platte hit the woodwork with the goal at his mercy, and their profligacy was punished ten minutes from time when Real made it 2-0. This time Ronaldo was the creator and Marcelo the finisher with the Brazilian full-back slamming the ball into the top corner of the Schalke net.
It is clear that Cristiano Ronaldo lives to score goals," declared Ancelotti at the end of a match that all but guarantees Real passage into the last eight. "He scored, he played well and gave an assist. It's not a problem for us if he doesn't score for a game or two but it's obvious that the goal did him good…Cristiano is back."
The win means Real remain the only side with a 100 per cent record in this season's Champions League and Ancelotti expressed his satisfaction with the result without getting carried away.
"My team put in a good performance," he reflected. "Our attitude was good as well. The intensity of this match was not very high, it was more a game of patience. We were waiting for our chances and, overall, were able to control things quite well."
In the evening's other Champions League tie, Danilo equalised from the penalty spot for Porto as they drew 1-1 in Basel. The Swiss side had taken the lead through Gonzalez on 11 minutes but in a bad-tempered game that saw nine players booked, the visitors came away with a share of the spoils thanks to the late penalty.