Spanish LeagueSunday, January 26, 2014
Ronaldo parades Ballon d’Or
Nets in Real Madrid’s 2-0 victory over Granada
Cristiano Ronaldo, who showed off the FIFA Ballon d’Or award, scored his 22nd La Liga goal of the season to set Real Madrid up for a 2-0 win at home to Granada that lifted them above Barcelona and Atlético Madrid to the top of the table.
BARCELONA, Spain — Cristiano Ronaldo paraded his Ballon d’Or trophy and scored his league-leading 22nd goal, helping Real Madrid to provisionally move top of the Spanish league with a 2-0 win over Granada yesterday.
Ronaldo soaked up an ovation from fans in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium as he held up his award for the best player in the world in 2013 before the match, which he then put his stamp on with a pinpoint strike to score in the 56th minute.
Ronaldo had wept when Pelé announced his name at the Ballon d’Or gala, but he kept his emotions in check back at his home grounds, saying it was “a different afternoon” that left him “very moved.”
“I’m very happy because my fans have helped me so much during these past years,” Ronaldo said. “The Ballon d’Or is for the equipment managers, the trainers... for all the people who work for Real Madrid. It’s for everyone.”
Karim Benzema sealed Madrid’s ninth straight win — and seventh consecutive clean sheet — in all competitions in the 74th, moments after Ronaldo’s deflected free kick clipped the crossbar.
Madrid moved two points above Barcelona and Atlético Madrid before they play games today.
“My team is playing perfectly in 2014,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “It has balance between attack and defence. That’s the key. We haven’t won any silverware yet... but our games in 2014 have been perfect.”
Madrid’s Gareth Bale was substituted at halftime after being kicked in the groin early on. Ancelotti said after the game Bale wasn’t injured, just “uncomfortable,” and he expects his winger to be ready for the King’s Cup match against Espanyol on Tuesday.
This was Madrid’s first home game since Ronaldo won his second Ballon d’Or on January 13 when he ended Lionel Messi’s four-year reign.
Madrid fans greeted Ronaldo with an enormous mosaic stretching across a wide section of seating that read “CR7” — Ronaldo’s nickname composed of his initials and shirt number. Ronaldo responded by lifting his award with one hand while waving to his supporters with the other. He then called his teammates and veteran stadium manager Agustín Herrerín to pose with him for photos.
Ronaldo scored his 32nd goal in 28 games overall this season after receiving a pass from Luka Modric, who has established himself as Ancelotti’s most reliable midfielder both in attack and defence.
Ronaldo turned with the ball, shuffled to his left, and slotted a left-footed strike inside the post before running to the end-line to bask in his second showering of applause for the day.
Granada never threatened Madrid, while goalkeeper Roberto Fernández denied Ronaldo’s bicycle kick in first-half injury time and got low to save his shot in the 68th.
Ronaldo also participated in Madrid’s second goal when he worked a one-two passing combination to free Marcelo, who squared for Benzema to fire home.