CR9 back in Real good books
Cristiano Ronaldo’s match-winning performance against Olympique Marseille on Tuesday has helped defuse the fierce criticism he attracted for his irresponsible sending off against Almeria at the weekend.
The Portuguese forward, a world record signing for the La Liga club in the close season, apologised for the two yellow cards he picked up — one for ripping off his shirt to celebrate a goal (which had the effect of showing off his bulging muscles to the cameras) and the second for recklessly kicking an opponent.
The Spanish press questioned his attitude the following day and noted that he will miss Saturday’s crucial La Liga clash at third-placed Valencia.
He was also slammed for sulking when he had a penalty saved and not celebrating with Karim Benzema after the Frenchman had driven home the rebound.
Almeria vice president Ricardo Martinez even called him a “chulo”, a cocky show-off.
But against Marseille the former Manchester United star wisely did his talking on the pitch, scoring two superb goals and generally running the French side ragged to fire Real into the last 16 of the Champions League.
“The Portuguese demonstrated that what you have to assess about him is his performance on the pitch — not so much his poses, his gestures or his kicks to opponents, something that all footballers have done at one time or another — and in this he has no equal,” purred Madrid-based sports sheet Marca.
“The two goals made him the top scorer in the Champions League, despite missing two matches, boosted his candidacy to return to the throne of world soccer and, what’s more, returned Madrid to the status of clear favourite to win everything,” the paper added.
We’ll see how the Madrid fans and press react if Real lose at Valencia, but for now, in the fickle world of football, Ronaldo is firmly back in favour.
PHOTO: Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo reacts after scoring against Olympique Marseille during their Champions League soccer match at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille December 8, 2009. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier