Ronaldo tells Benitez he can defend more

Cristiano Ronaldo is all smiles with a goal against Shakhtar Donetsk. But, on a more serious note, he has told manager Rafael Benitez how Real Madrid can rebound after a Clasico mauling by Barcelona.
Cristiano Ronaldo is all smiles with a goal against Shakhtar Donetsk. But, on a more serious note, he has told manager Rafael Benitez how Real Madrid can rebound after a Clasico mauling by Barcelona.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LVIV (Ukraine) • A day after vowing to help out more with defensive work, Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in a 4-3 Champions League win at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Along with fellow Real Madrid senior players Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema, the Portuguese was invited to discuss ideas about how the club could recover - from Saturday's 4-0 Clasico defeat - at their hotel in Lviv with manager Rafael Benitez on Tuesday.

Ronaldo is believed to have acknowledged that he needed to cover more ground from his preferred berth on the left wing.

But he suggested that the same was true of much of the side.

Benitez called the meeting after club president Florentino Perez said in a press conference on Monday that the defeat by Barcelona - which left Real six points off the pace in La Liga - had not placed the Spaniard's job in any danger.

Perez has made it clear to the likes of Ronaldo, Bale and Rodriguez that Benitez will not find his position undermined if he chooses to drop them.

The players have also been informed that they are expected to follow the manager's instructions.

At Real, where the club's galactico signings have long been guaranteed a place in the side, that is a considerable change of emphasis.

Although earlier reports that Ronaldo's relationship with Benitez had grown strained were exaggerated, it is believed that the meeting was notably more cordial than previous encounters.

Ronaldo followed his hat-trick in Real's home match against Shakhtar in September by scoring twice against the same opponents in a remarkable tie on Wednesday.

The Portugal forward headed home Bale's cross in the 18th minute and set up Luka Modric and Dani Carvajal for goals soon after half-time.

Ronaldo hit the fourth from a Bale cutback but Shakhtar replied in the final 15 minutes with two goals by Alex Teixeira and a close-range effort by Dentinho.

The Spanish giants survived a nervous finish to wrap up top spot in Champions League Group A, exposing runners-up Paris Saint-Germain to the possibility of being drawn against Barcelona or Bayern Munich in the round of 16.

But Benitez will have concerns too."We've conceded 10 goals in our last three matches but today we acted as a single unit, as a team, and that's a very encouraging sign," said the manager who dropped Benzema and Rodriguez to the bench.

"We've scored four goals away from home. I believe this shows that our club is moving in the right direction."

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2015, with the headline 'Ronaldo tells Benitez he can defend more'. Print Edition | Subscribe