Zinedine Zidane declared Cristiano Ronaldo “the best in the world” after he marked his Real Madrid return by scoring twice in the 3-0 Champions League victory over APOEL Nicosia.
Ronaldo is currently four games into a five-match domestic ban for pushing the referee after being sent off in the Spanish Supercopa clash with Barcelona last month.
But Ronaldo was as sharp as ever in taking his Champions League goals tally to 107 with a close-range effort and a second-half penalty.
Skipper Sergio Ramos added an overhead kick as Real – winners of the Champions League three times in the last four seasons – began the defence of their trophy in style.
“He’s the best in the world,” Real manager Zidane said about Ronaldo to BeIN after the game.
“He’s always there, he always scores. If he was luckier today, he could have scored four.
“We know the ability that Cristiano has.”
Real should have won by a greater margin with Ronaldo striking the crossbar and having another effort ruled out for offside.
Isco and Gareth Bale also went close, but Zidane was content after the game, saying: “We are happy.
“There are no quiet games. APOEL have experienced players and are not overwhelmed by the Bernabeu; they just went out and played.
“If you’re not focused, they can hurt you.”
Speaking about Ramos’ excellent bicycle kick, Zidane added: “I could not do that, only a few can.
“Sergio normally scores with his head, but he has the ability to score a bicycle kick on occasion.”
Welshman Bale has scored only once this season but he enjoyed a better evening as he set up Ronaldo’s opener and Ramos’ spectacular effort.
After being whistled by fans at the end of Saturday’s 1-1 LaLiga home draw against Levante, Bale had a mixed reception when he was substituted during the final 10 minutes.
But Zidane said: “I did not listen to the whistles, only the applause.
Ramos added: “It’s true that there has been a shortage of goals – but not all matches can be won.
“Cris always scores and is fundamental (to Real). His level is unquestionable.”
On his own spectacular effort, Ramos said: “I like to join the attack and when the overhead kick went in, it calmed the nerves.”