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Ronaldo revels in Real slice of history

China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-05 07:50

Superstar calls out critics, looks forward to more glory after leading Los Blancos to historic CL win

Cristiano Ronaldo said he had no intention of slowing down after spearheading a 4-1 victory over Juventus that made Real Madrid the first team to retain the UEFA Champions League trophy.

Ronaldo's double in Saturday's final at Cardiff's Principality Stadium, allied to goals by Casemiro and Marco Asensio, earned him a fourth triumph in the tournament and gave Madrid its third in four years and 12th in total.

The 32-year-old superstar has now scored 600 career goals for club and country, including 105 in the Champions League, and has finished as the top scorer in the competition for the last five seasons.

 Ronaldo revels in Real slice of history

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo attempts an overhead kick during his side's 4-1 Champions League final victory over Juventus in Cardiff, Wales on Saturday. John Sibley / Reuters

"I think people don't have words to criticize, because the numbers don't lie," said Ronaldo after receiving the man-of-the-match award from his former Manchester United mentor Alex Ferguson.

"I'm very happy. It was an amazing season again. We won trophies. It's one of the best moments in my career. I have the opportunity to say that every year. But it's true.

"This year was amazing again, last year was amazing, too. Now I have two or three days off to rest and after we have a (World Cup) qualifying game for Portugal and we have the Confederations Cup.

"It's a long season, but I'm motivated, I'm happy. I'm in a good moment. My age is just a number. I feel like a young boy."

Madrid became the first team to successfully defend the European Cup since Arrigo Sacchi's AC Milan in 1990 and the first to achieve the feat since it relaunched as the Champions League in 1992.

"There's no doubt whatsoever, today is a truly historic day for Madrid's fans, myself and our big family," said coach Zinedine Zidane, who has now won three Champions League titles as a player and coach.

"Having said that, you know how things are. Next year it's going to be even more difficult. We're going to have to work very hard to win once again.

"But today we can say that we are a very good team and that we deserved to win La Liga and the Champions League. It was not easy."

Zidane, who lifted the trophy as a Madrid player in 2002, led Real to glory in last season's final less than five months after succeeding Rafael Benitez to take up his first managerial role.

The former France playmaker's contract expires in a year, but he said he was not thinking about leaving.

"I'm not going to confirm I'll stay here all my life. That's impossible to say," said the 44-year-old.

"But I'm extremely happy and grateful to the club for giving me the opportunity to coach these fantastic players. I have a one-year contract left. I think I'll be here next year!"

Ronaldo revels in Real slice of history

The emphatic nature of Madrid's victory removed some of the gloss from Mario Mandzukic's sensational equalizer for Juve, which canceled out Ronaldo's 20th-minute opener.

Leonardo Bonucci's raking pass was volleyed into the box by Alex Sandro and Gonzalo Higuain kept the ball airborne for Mandzukic to chest it up and send a looping volley over Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

Casemiro restored Madrid's lead just after the hour and further goals from Ronaldo and substitute Asensio wrapped up the win before Juve substitute Juan Cuadrado was harshly shown a second yellow card for pushing Sergio Ramos.

'Still lots to give'

Juve has now lost five successive European Cup finals and a record seven in total.

The Turin giant, which was chasing a treble following its Serie A and Italian Cup victories, fielded a starting XI with an average age of 30 years and 336 days, but coach Massimiliano Allegri dismissed talk of decay.

"No, I don't think Juventus have reached the end of a cycle at all," he said. "(Gianluigi) Buffon will still be the goalkeeper next year. The same applies to (centerback) Andrea Barzagli, who will be with us for at least another year. They've still lots to give.

"If our current team is complemented with new players, we'll be really competitive next year."

Agece France-Presse

(China Daily 06/05/2017 page24)

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