Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Real Madrid beat Paris St Germain 3-1 in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie.
The French side took the lead through Adrien Rabiot but Ronaldo equalised from the penalty spot just before half-time.
The Portugal forward then put the hosts ahead with seven minutes left before left-back Marcelo’s close-range finish gave the holders a two-goal cushion to take to Paris.
Here, we rate the Real Madrid players after the 3-1 win at the Bernabeu.
Keylor Navas 7 – Dropped to the deck too quick for the Rabiot opener but used that speed to get low and stop Mbappe superbly.
Sergio Ramos 7 – What Real have craved in recent weeks. Read the danger so well and stopped two certain goals with beastly blocks.
Raphael Varane 7 – Almost single-handedly led the defence. Block after block. Clearance after clearance and assured display.
Nacho Fernandez 5 – Afforded Neymar more space than an empty car park and offered little as a attacking threat.
Marcelo 8 – Thumped the badge on his heart in celebration after his goal – a fitting image after an all-action display.
Casemiro 5 – Dropped so deep he was effectively a third centre-back but somehow still managed to leave Nacho exposed.
Toni Kroos 6 – Earned the penalty by exaggerating the touch from Lo Celso. Not his usual Kroos control but his ball retention was solid.
Luka Modric 6 – Horrendous dive in the second half and not nice to see from a player of his undoubted talent.
Isco 5 – Turned, turned and turned before being caught in possession. Neglected the sensible option even when deep in his own half too many times.
Karim Benzema 5 – Brought off for Bale in the second half to a piercing collective Bernabeu whistle. Sums up his impact.
Cristiano Ronaldo 8 – Nerveless penalty of power and precision and his rapid reaction to adjust his body to knee the winner was supreme.
Gareth Bale 7 – Changed the game alongside Asensio. His pace really stretched the ball and opened up the spaces for Ronaldo to attack.
Lucas Vasquez 6 – Smart sub from Zidane as Real began to hit the channels instead of congested areas through the middle.
Marco Asensio 8 – Inspired substitution. Used a marriage of pace and creativity to assist both Ronaldo and Marcelo.
And Guti, the boyhood Madridista who enjoyed a 15-year career with the Spanish giants, reckons it is only a matter of time before Florentino Perez makes him the next Galactico.
Ahead of Real’s first-leg last 16 clash with the Ligue 1 side on home soil on Wednesday night, the now retired 41-year-old said: “I think Neymar will go to Real Madrid.
“At Real Madrid you have to be the best in the world and Neymar is. I think he is more motivated and I think he will continue to be so. He knows that he won’t come to a better place.”
However, in the live interview with El Chiringuito de Jugones, the three-time Champions League winner did state that if Neymar arrived, it would not be at the expense of Cristiano Ronaldo, but rather out-of-form Karim Benzema.
“Who knows if Benzema will be the one who goes to PSG. I think Ronaldo will continue here though.
“Benzema must forget about the fans’ whistles.”
Cristiano Ronaldo always believed his talismanic form could be recaptured at Real Madrid as the Portuguese powerhouse returns to form ahead of the tantalising Champions League last 16 clash with Paris Saint-Germain.
Los Blancos host the French giants in the tie of the first knockout round, with Unai Emery’s side visiting the Spanish capital for the first leg on Wednesday night.
And their talisman has been singled out for criticism this season as Real have stuttered domestically, currently sitting fourth in La Liga, a mammoth 17 points of rivals Barcelona at the top.
Ronaldo, however, has returned to form in recent weeks, netting seven times in his last four outings, including a hat-trick in his side’s 5-2 destruction of Real Sociedad on Saturday.
It adds to braces in similarly impressive 7-1 and 4-1 victories against Deportivo and Valencia respectively as the star of the Santiago Bernabeu returns to form as the 2017/18 season enters the business end of proceedings.
In an interview with Goal after he picked up their Goal 50 award, Ronaldo said: “I always look to show my best level, but sometimes things don’t go as we would like them to. But experience has taught me that we have to keep working hard to achieve our goals.”
Although he may have endured his struggles in Spain, the 33-year-old has been electric on the continent this season, scoring nine goals before Christmas to become the first player to find the net in every Champions League group game as Madrid seek a third successive triumph in the competition.
Madrid still finished second in their group behind Tottenham, however, leading to a tricky last 16 tie in which they play away in the second leg. And ahead of Wednesday’s first tie with PSG in Madrid, the Champions League’s all-time leading goalscorer said: “We are going to play against a great team with excellent players, which we respect very much.
“But we have already shown that Real Madrid have a very strong and united group, with a lot of experience in this competition. We know we have to be very focused and play two very good games to move forward in the Champions League.”
Once domestic and continental endeavours come to a close in 2017/18, attention for Ronaldo will shift to the pursuit of global glory at this summer’s World Cup.
Portugal will head to Russia as reigning European champions, and there’s a belief within their camp that they can upset the odds once again and compete with the best teams on the planet for football’s grandest prize.
Ronaldo added: “We know that Portugal are not favourites in the World Cup. For me, the favourites are Spain, Germany, France, Argentina and Brazil. We are part of a group of teams that know they can compete at the highest level.”
If Real can sustain another Champions League challenge and Portugal go deep into World Cup, then expect Ronaldo to be there or thereabouts again when the Goal 50 returns at the end of the calendar year.
Defending that trophy and the Champions League are two of many targets for Ronaldo in 2018. And of his Goal 50 award, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner said: “It is a pleasure to receive the Goal 50 trophy once again. I want to thank all those who voted for me and, above all, thank my team-mates, the coaches and Real Madrid staff. Without them, it would not have been possible to win it.”