Zinedine Zidane hails 'brilliant' Cristiano Ronaldo as Real Madrid win
Zinedine Zidane described Cristiano Ronaldo as "bloody brilliant" after his double helped Real Madrid to a 4-2 La Liga win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.
Ronaldo opened and closed the scoring at the Bernabeu, with James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos also netting. Javi Eraso and Gorka Elustondo struck for Bilbao.
Ronaldo now has 20 La Liga goals for the season, one ahead of Barcelona's Luis Suarez and two ahead of teammate Karim Benzema, and coach Zidane told his postmatch news conference the Portugal captain's performance had answered his critics.
"About Cristiano, what can I tell you?" Zidane said. "You [journalists] are here to give your opinion on whether he played good or bad, if he is finished or not.
"He has shown today that he is bloody brilliant, if you will excuse the phrase. He is in good form."
James also looked close to his best, driving home a 25-yarder in the first half, and the Colombia international has two goals and two assists since returning to the starting XI four games ago.
"I am very happy for James -- he had missed scoring goals," Zidane said. "Bit by bit, he is picking up that rhythm and importance in team."
Athletic also had plenty of chances, with top scorer Aritz Aduriz hitting the bar and being denied by Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas on three occasions.
"We will always have some mistakes," Zidane said. "That does not worry me. The good thing is that we won the game. We knew it would be difficult -- we can only try and make as few mistakes as possible.
"I want players to see if they make mistakes, and then do not make them again."
Madrid are set to appeal against Rafael Varane's sending off late in the game for two yellow cards.
"I do not believe the decisions were fair," Zidane said. "I have not seen the images, but they tell me they were normal jumps and it was not a second yellow."
The coach said his players were ready for their Champions League round of 16 first leg at Roma on Wednesday.
He added: "We are good physically, playing well, and I am very happy with what we did today against a very good team. It is a competition which brings me back many good memories -- as I won it as an assistant coach and a player. It has something special. We will fight to win it."