World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo claimed Real Madrid fans should get off coach Rafael Benitez’s back after a record-equaling 8-0 mauling of Malmo in the Champions League.
Ronaldo set a new record for goals scored in the Champions League group stage by hitting four against the Swedish champions on Tuesday to take his tally in this season’s competition to 11.
Madrid have now won five consecutive games since being embarrassed 4-0 at home by eternal rivals Barcelona last month, but many of the home fans still booed Benitez at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Benitez was also in charge of Liverpool when they beat Besiktas 8-0 to set the benchmark for the biggest margin of victory in a Champions League game. And Madrid’s all-time leading goalscorer came out in defense of his coach:
“I don’t see the problem.
“The fans express themselves as they want but the boss is doing a good job, he is adapting to Real Madrid and I think we have to give him time because in my opinion he is doing things well.”
Ronaldo also put Madrid fans at ease by distancing himself from rumors linking him with a sensational transfer to Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season.
His 11 Champions League goals have come in just four games against Shakhtar Donetsk and Malmo as he failed to find the net in two matches against PSG. After Madrid’s 1-0 win at home to the French champions, Ronaldo was captured embracing both PSG coach Laurent Blanc and president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, but he insists he is happy in the Spanish capital:
“It is speculation that happens every year. I think people are used to this always surrounding Cristiano, but I am calm.
“I am happy at a club that has helped me a huge amount since I arrived here.”
On an ideal night for Madrid, troubled French striker Karim Benzema also registered his first hat-trick in five years.
Benzema will learn on Thursday if he is to be suspended from the French national team due to his alleged involvement in a blackmail scandal involving a sex tape of international teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
In contrast to the hostile reception he has received in his homeland, Benzema has been categorically supported by Madrid and he has repaid that faith with five goals in his last two games.
“There is a justice system and we have to see what it says before anything else,” Benzema said regarding his possible ban from the national team.
“This is a team (Real) that doesn’t leave you behind, in the good moments and the bad.
“They are all behind me, from the president down.”
Despite his off-field problems and a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for six weeks, Benzema is enjoying his best ever goalscoring start to a season with Madrid after 12 goals in just 13 appearances.
“This is one of my best years and hopefully it will continue like that,” he added.
“There is a bit of luck, hard work and patience. I have confidence in myself and I feel the president, my teammates and my family have confidence in me.
“I play for the people I love.”
100+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $29.99/mo. for fubo Español Package
- Watch Premier League, LaLiga, Liga MX & MLS
- Includes NBC, NBCSN, FS1, FS2, Univision, beIN SPORTS and more
Favorite Leagues At The Best Price
- Starting price: $7.99/mo. for Live TV Package
- Watch LaLiga, Primeira Liga and Copa Libertadores
- Includes beIN SPORTS, GolTV, TyC Sports and more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $4.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $12.99/mo.)
- Features Serie A, Bundesliga, FA Cup, EFL & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
Live TV, Soccer & Originals
- Starting price: $5.99/mo.
- Features Champions League, Europa League & NWSL
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ