Ronaldo on target in Real Cup win
Updated: 2011-12-14 16:45
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo heads the ball during their Spanish King's Cup last 32 first-leg soccer match against Ponferradina at Toralin stadium in Ponferrada, Dec 13, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
MADRID - Cristiano Ronaldo struck a late goal to help Real Madrid beat third tier Ponferradina 2-0 away in a King's Cup last 32, first-leg match on Tuesday, as the holders looked to recover from their demoralising 'Clasico' defeat by Barcelona at the weekend.
Jose Callejon gave an under-strength Real side the lead in the 30th minute and, after defender Raul Albiol was sent off in the 70th, Ronaldo responded to criticism of his performance against Barca by sprinting clear to notch the second goal.
The Portugal forward barely celebrated with a grim look on his face, and was substituted after a subdued showing minutes later, to a mixture of whistles and applause.
"Cristiano is fine, he is an extraordinary player," Real sports director Miguel Pardeza told Spanish television when asked how Ronaldo was handling some negative press.
"If something marks him out from many other players it is that he never gives up on a chance to play, and always gives his all whatever the circumstances.
"No one should doubt his commitment, his personality or his abilities as a player."
The only upset on the night was Levante, who are fourth in La Liga, losing 3-1 at recently relegated Deportivo Coruna, and second division Cordoba beating local top flight rivals Real Betis 1-0.
The 2008 Cup winners Valencia and misfiring Villarreal were held at third tier Cadiz and Mirandes respectively, while Real Zaragoza and Espanyol drew away to second division opponents.
La Liga strugglers Racing Santander, in the hands of a temporary coaching trio, came back from 2-1 down to snatch a 3-2 win at home to Rayo Vallecano with a double from Christian Stuani and a late strike from fellow Argentine Ariel Nahuelpan.
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