MADRID MUST DEPEND ON RONALDO TO CONQUER EUROPE AGAIN

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The Portuguese struck twice in the 2-0 win at
Malmo to draw level with Raul as the club’s all-
time top scorer and show coach Rafa Benitez
that he remains the go-to guy for goals

Five hundred and one and counting. Cristiano
Ronaldo went past the half-thousand mark with
his two goals against Malmo on Wednesday
night and also drew level with Raul on 323
strikes for Real Madrid. “We shouldn’t depend
on him,” Rafa Benitez said in the build-up to the
game. But they need to.
What Benitez had meant was that Real require
goals from elsewhere as well, and he is right in
that sense. However, Ronaldo remains the most
reliable outlet and he showed just how
important he is to the club’s Champions League
aspirations with both in this match.
All of Cristiano’s eight strikes so far in 2015-16
had come in two games (five in the 6-0 win at
Espanyol and three in the 4-0 victory at home
to Shakhtar Donetsk), but he had failed to find
the net in his past two matches.
Sensing the opportunity against a Malmo team
likely making up the numbers in Group A, the
Portuguese was lively from the outset in this
match and hit his 500th career goal after 28
minutes when he latched onto an Isco pass and
beat Swedish goalkeeper Johan Wiland with a
cool finish.
Dani Carvajal hit the crossbar late in the first
half as Madrid threatened to build on their lead,
but Benitez’s side have struggled somewhat for
goals recently and had to wait until the 90th
minute for the second. And again it was
Ronaldo, this time as he poked home a cross
from Lucas Vazquez.
That was his 323rd strike for Real Madrid and
saw him reach Raul, the club’s all-time top
goalscorer. The former Spain striker needed
741 matches to net his 323. Cristiano,
meanwhile, has managed it in just 308
appearances for Los Blancos. Insatiable.
According to official club statistics, Ronaldo
surpassed Raul and now has 324 goals for the
Spanish side. However, that tally includes a
strike given to Pepe against Real Sociedad by
match officials in 2010-11 but which is included
in the register recorded by sports daily Marca
(who awarded the Pichichi prize).

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Be it 323 or 324, it makes little difference –
Ronaldo remains the go-to guy for goals at Real
and at the age of 30, that should continue for
some time to come.
“I hope that Ronaldo never stops scoring and
that we can keep benefitting from him,” Benitez
said after the match.
And he added: “I’m happy for Cristiano, I’m
happy for the team and I’m happy that we didn’t
concede.”
Eight games into the current campaign and
Rafa’s reign, Madrid have let in only one goal so
far this season and that came in the 2-1 win at
Athletic Bilbao in La Liga 10 days ago.
In the meantime, they have scored 20 and half
of those belong to Ronaldo (who now has five in
La Liga and five in the Champions League this
term).
His double against Malmo on Wednesday
means he now leads the scoring charts in
Europe with 82 in the continental competition,
while he sits at the top of the tree alongside
Raul for Madrid strikes and has 501 overall in
his career for club and country in just 753
games.
It is a remarkable record and even though
Benitez will want others to chip in and help him
out as Madrid seek silverware in 2015-16, their
best hopes of trophies this term lie with the
prolific Portuguese.
So relying on one man may not be ideal, but
Madrid’s title hopes do depend very much upon
Ronaldo. Luckily for them, he’s just about as
dependable as they come.

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