Xabi Alonso said Cristiano Ronaldo's off-night in front of goal was not to blame for Real Madrid's agonising exit to Borussia Dortmund in Tuesday's Champions League semi-final second leg at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
Many of Madrid's hopes pre-game of overturning the 4-1 first-leg deficit were focused on Ronaldo, who came into the game having scored in his last six Champions League appearances, and with 12 in 11 games in the competition this term.
However, the Portugal forward had a frustrating evening, finishing with just one shot on target, when his point-blank effort hit Roman Weidenfeller in the first half. Late goals from Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos gave Madrid a 2-0 victory but were not enough to take Madrid through.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Alonso said it was unfair to point to any one player, as other Madrid attackers - including Gonzalo Higuain, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria - had also missed opportunities in front of goal.
"There is no need to focus on Cristiano - everyone up front had chances," the Spain midfielder said. "Ronaldo has been key for us this season and scored lots of goals. We are very happy with him and it was a shame that he did not score".
Ronaldo had missed last Saturday's 2-1 derby win at Atletico Madrid with a left thigh muscle problem, and was pressed by reporters after the game about whether an injury had affected his performance during the 90 minutes. He refused to use his fitness as an excuse, saying he had felt fine out on the pitch.
"I felt fine, I had no problems," he said. "I could have done better and could have managed to score a goal. But I do not want to justify my performance with that - I was fine and I always try to give my best in games. I was coming into the game in good form."