Carlo Ancelotti has stated that "Cristiano Ronaldo is back" after the Ballon d’Or holder ended his goal drought in Real Madrid’s 2-0 win over Schalke on Tuesday.
The Portugal international has been under unfamiliar negative spotlight in recent weeks, having missed two Blancos matches with a petulant Liga suspension and having not scored since Jan. 18. However, a header in the first half of Madrid’s Champions League last-16 first leg at the Veltins Arena silenced his doubters and saw him go level with Lionel Messi and Raul as the top scorer in European competitions, with 76 goals across continental tournaments.
"Ronaldo is back," Ancelotti told Canal Plus. "He scored, he made an assist – he did well."
Article continues below ...
The coach, who guided Real Madrid to its 10th European triumph last year, was satisfied with his team’s performance against a stubborn and well-organized Schalke side.
"I’m happy," Ancelotti continued. "It’s never easy coming into such a game after our period in La Liga. But the players showed good attitude and put in a good performance. It went well. The game did not allow brilliance, with Schalke trying to hit us on the counterattack. After we went 1-0 up we controlled the game. We tried to score the second and thankfully we did."
Ancelotti usually refrains from being animated on the touchline but Marcelo’s sumptuous strike late in the second half to seal victory had him celebrating with his players. He explained the reaction was due to the oddity of his left back’s goal.
"I went to celebrate the goal on the pitch because it is so unusual to see Marcelo scoring with his right foot," the Italian added.
The return tie — which will decide whether Madrid or Schalke heads into the quarterfinal stage — will take place at the Santiago Bernabeu on March 10.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos blasted the state of the pitch at the Veltins Arena following his side’s Champions League win over Schalke.
"It was difficult and that was partially down to the state of the pitch," the Germany international told Sky. "It should not be an excuse, but the pitch was a catastrophe."
Kroos then went on to stress that Madrid was not surprised by Schalke’s approach and laughed off suggestions of a crisis after his team’s 4-0 league defeat to Atletico Madrid earlier this month.
"We expected Schalke to play very defensive, but we scored at a good time in the match. Perhaps we played better in the first half of the season, but you would have to lose several matches in a row in order to talk about a crisis in my opinion. We lost only one match. I rather lose 4-0 once than lose four matches by one goal."
Kroos also had his say on Ronaldo following the Portugal star’s goal after three games without finding the net.
"Ronaldo was focused as usual. He had not scored for two or three matches, but it was a matter of time until he scored again. And today he did just that."
FOXSoccer.com and Goal.com have teamed up to bring you the best in world soccer coverage. Visit Goal.com, and follow them on Twitter and Facebook.