Cristiano Ronaldo labelled 'outstanding' after ensuring Real Madrid stay on course for treble
The forward scored twice in a 3-1 win over Schalke as Real Madrid advanced to the last eight 9-2 on aggregate
Wednesday 19 March 2014
Cristiano Ronaldo's scintillating form and the supporting role played by the likes of Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema suggest Real Madrid have every right to believe a rare treble is well within their grasp.
Barcelona became the only Spanish team to win the Champions League and the domestic league and Cup in the same season in 2009 and La Liga leaders Real are in a strong position to match their arch rivals after Ronaldo's goals helped them put together a 31-match unbeaten run since the end of October.
The Portugal forward has scored 41 in 37 appearances for the world's richest club this term.
His double in Tuesday's 3-1 win against Schalke 04, as Real secured their place in the Champions League quarter-finals with a club record 9-2 aggregate success, took his tally in the latest edition of Europe's elite club competition to 13.
His opening goal in the 21st minute showcased his ability to time his runs to perfection as he sprinted into the area and clipped a Bale centre into the net.
His second 17 minutes from time was classic Ronaldo as he collected the ball near the halfway line and charged past the helpless Schalke players before smashing a low shot into the bottom corner.
"Ronaldo didn't become World Player of the Year for nothing," Schalke coach Jens Keller told a news conference. "His qualities are outstanding."
With 13 goals in seven games, the 29-year-old former Manchester United player, who also scored twice in the 6-1 win at Schalke in their round of 16, first leg, has surpassed his best Champions League haul and is one short of the record of 14 set by Barca forward Lionel Messi in 2011-12.
"Cristiano is the best in the world," Real midfielder Casemiro, who had a rare chance to impress on Tuesday with his team virtually assured of going through, told reporters.
"He is a one-man show and an example for everyone," the 22-year-old added. "I learn a lot from him and he is an incredible player."
Real will find out on Friday who they will face in the quarter-finals and they could be drawn against Barca or city neighbours Atletico Madrid.
Real host Barca, the last team to beat them, in the La Liga "Clasico" on Sunday, when a win would stretch their lead over the champions to seven points and deal a severe blow to Barca's chances of a fifth title in six years.
Barca are third after a couple of surprise defeats, a point behind second-placed Atletico.
Barca and Real also meet in next month's King's Cup final, a repeat of the 2011 showpiece which Real won 1-0, raising the prospect of a possible four meetings between them in the space of just over three weeks.
Bale, who has started to come into form after an injury-disrupted start to his Real career, has developed a highly effective partnership with Ronaldo and the Wales winger said his confidence was high as the season enters a crucial phase.
"I am enjoying my game," he told reporters.
"We are playing well, with a lot of confidence, and are on a good run," he added.
"We are coming to a decisive part of the season and we have to keep it going.
"Barcelona is a direct rival and we will try to play a good match (on Sunday) and get the three points.
"They have very good players but we are focused on our game and on our team because we also have very good players."
Latest in Sport
Robin van Persie to Fenerbahce: Manchester United striker 'agrees to personal terms' with Turkish side
Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs posts bizarre video of his Miami holiday being invaded by an iguana
Women's World Cup 2015: England secure third place as they beat Germany in extra time with penalty by Fara Williams
Arsenal transfer news: Gunners will only consider 'astronomical offer' from Atletico Madrid for Santi Cazorla
Why is it that there’s no women’s team at Manchester United? - Michael Calvin
- 1 Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
- 2 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 3 Right to die: Belgian doctors rule depressed 24-year-old woman has right to end her life
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll