Rafael Benitez has hailed Cristiano Ronaldo’s performance in the wake of Real Madrid’s 3-0 La Liga win over Levante at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The Portugal international played a key role in Saturday’s encounter as he set up Marcelo for Madrid’s first goal, before netting their second just minutes later to become the capital club’s all-time leading goalscorer.
Jese eventually made it three after the break and Benitez was quick to acknowledge Ronaldo’s contribution, praising the 30-year-old for carrying his team to victory with a number of other senior players ruled out.
“Cristiano had to step up and take his responsibility, showing the team the way and he did just that,” the former Napoli boss said at a news conference.
“We were missing a lot of players, but he carried the team.”
Benitez replaced Gareth Bale with Lucas Vazquez at half-time, leading to fears the ex-Tottenham star had suffered another injury problem after he already missed a number of games for Madrid earlier this season due to a muscular problem.
However, the head coach stressed his winger was merely rested as he had featured twice for Wales during the international break.
“I did not take Bale off because of some injury,” said Benitez.
“He just needed some rest after an intense week with Wales.”
Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and James Rodriguez are among the current stars absent through injury for Madrid.