Dani Ceballos described Cristiano Ronaldo as “the soul of the team” after he made a decisive return to action in Real Madrid’s Champions League win over APOEL.
The Portugal star scored twice to take his career tally in the competition to 107 and give Zinedine Zidane’s side a winning start in the defence of the trophy.
It was Ronaldo’s first competitive appearance for Madrid since the first leg of the Supercopa de Espana, with the 32-year-old to serve the final instalment of a five-match domestic ban against Real Sociedad on Sunday.
The European and Spanish champions have drawn their last two LaLiga games in his absence and Ceballos has admitted that they need him back as soon as possible.
“With Cristiano on the field, we’re always more comfortable and he gives us the confidence that turns in to goals,” he said.
“He’s the soul of the team, he’s fundamental for us and he’s in better shape than ever. He’s had a great game and his ambition makes him the best in the world.”
It was Ceballos’ first appearance since his debut in the Supercopa and the 21-year-old revelled in realising a dream by playing in Europe’s top competition.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) September 13, 2017
“I am happy to have started my Champions League dream with a win, it will be hard to forget,” said Ceballos, who joined from Real Betis in July for a reported fee of €18million.
“It is a special day for me, a dream come true. The team started well and we were electric in the second half, which led to us getting a great win.
“We are trying to write history, it is in our hands and we showed the drive we have to win a third consecutive Champions League title.”
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