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MADRID: Real Madrid coach Zine­dine Zi­dane warned de­fences around Europe that Cris­tiano Ron­aldo is only just get­ting started when the Por­tuguese re­turned to ac­tion af­ter a month by scor­ing twice in a 3-0 win over APOEL Ni­cosia on Wed­nes­day. Ron­aldo coolly rolled Gareth Bale’s cross into the far cor­ner to score in the 12th minute and could have scored on three fur­ther oc­ca­sions be­fore he dou­bled Real’s lead from the penalty spot in the sec­ond half, while he was later de­nied a hat-trick by an offside flag. “If he had been in bet­ter shape he’d have scored four goals,” Zi­dane said. “He is the best in the world, he is al­ways there when we want him, he al­ways scores goals. We know what Cris­tiano of­fers.” Ron­aldo was hit with a five-game do­mes­tic ban for push­ing a ref­eree in the Span­ish Su­per Cup first leg against Barcelona on 13 Au­gust, pre­vent­ing him from play­ing the sec­ond leg and league games against De­portivo La Coruna, Va­len­cia and Le­vante as well as this Sun­day’s trip to Real So­ciedad. “He’s a vi­tal player for us and I hope he stays on this run even though we won’t have him on Sun­day. I hope that’s the last game this sea­son where he won’t be able to play for us,” Zi­dane said. Real badly missed Ron­aldo in the draws against Va­len­cia and Le­vante, with Bale look­ing un­suited to the cen­tre for­ward role and Karim Ben­zema be­ing forced off in­jured early in the lat­ter game, leav­ing the in­ex­pe­ri­enced Borja May­oral as the team’s only fit nat­u­ral striker at the time. “We have def­i­nitely lacked some sharp­ness up front re­cently but we can’t al­ways win every game by loads of goals as foot­ball is be­com­ing more equal and every op­po­nent is strong,” added Ser­gio Ramos, who scored Real’s third goal with an over­head kick. “But we all know that Cris­tiano al­ways has goals in him and is fun­da­men­tal to us. His qual­ity is un­ques­tion­able and when­ever he is around, Madrid are al­ways go­ing to ben­e­fit from his pres­ence.” Here, Real Madrid’s Cris­tiano Ron­aldo cel­e­brates scor­ing his side’s first goal dur­ing a Cham­pi­ons League group H soc­cer match be­tween Real Madrid and APOEL Ni­cosia at the San­ti­ago Bern­abeu on Wed­nes­day.

Pic­ture: AP

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