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Apr 30, 2014

Ronaldo delighted to break record

Cristiano Ronaldo has praised his Real Madrid teammates after he broke the record for the most goals in a single Champions League season.

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Ronaldo scored twice in Madrid’s 4-0 victory at Bayern Munich in their Champions League semifinal second leg on Tuesday, taking his tally for the competition this season to 16.

In doing so, he moved past former AC Milan striker Jose Altafini, who scored 14 goals in the 1962-63 European Cup, and Lionel Messi, who equalled that tally for Barcelona in their 2011-12 Champions League campaign.

Ronaldo netted his 15th when putting Madrid 3-0 up on the night, and he said on the club’s official website: “I was looking for it and I knew I needed one goal but I was not going to be mad if it didn’t happen.”

The record-breaking goal came as he finished off a sweeping counter-attack involving Gareth Bale, and he added: “It was a great ball from Bale. The whole team helped me. I’m really happy to break the Champions League record but what I want is to win it and we’re very excited.”

Ronaldo said current Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti deserved “all the praise,” adding: “He has changed everything. He has changed the mentality of the players.”

Madrid’s progression sets up a potential final in Lisbon on May 23 against Ronaldo’s former club coach Jose Mourinho, should Chelsea get past Atletico Madrid in the other semifinal.

However, Ronaldo said he was not concerned about the opposition and was simply pleased to have reached the final in his native Portugal.

“A final is always difficult,” Ronaldo said. “I don’t care if it’s Mourinho or another coach. It will be in my country and I want to win the Champions League. We have been losing in the semis for a long time, three or four years, but the most important thing is that now we are in a deserved final and we have our feet on the ground.”

Madrid will be without midfielder Xabi Alonso in Lisbon after he picked up a suspension during the victory in Munich.

Alonso went into the game knowing that a yellow card would see him miss the next match, and collected a caution for fouling Bastian Schweinsteiger with the aggregate score at 4-0 and Madrid in full control of the tie.

After the match, Alonso told El Larguero: “The first thing is to say I am very happy, this is a very important day for the team, for the club.

“We came here knowing we had fallen three years in the semifinals. We were very focused. We played one of those games that will be remembered. We did it, we are in the final. But then, obviously, it is a pity not to be able to play the final. With time, I hope I will not remember this part. I hope we will win and then forget about this part.”

UEFA rules state that players are suspended for one match if, from the first game of the group stage, they pick up three cautions in three different matches.

Alonso -- who had previously been booked in the game away to Copenhagen in the group stage and then in the 2-0 quarterfinal defeat at Borussia Dortmund -- said he felt Tuesday’s booking was harsh, but he reserved most of his anger for UEFA rules.

“What is most unfair -- more than the card -- is the rule,” he said. “In the whole competition, there is no moment when there is an amnesty. You can go three or four games running this risk, then for one card you miss the final. It is a pity that they are not going to take it away.”

Madrid centre-back Sergio Ramos -- who scored Madrid’s first two goals -- also faced the prospect of a suspension for the final, but he managed to get through his 70 minutes on the pitch without committing even one foul.

He told reporters at the Allianz Arena he had been more and more careful as the game went on to avoid giving referee Pedro Proenca any chance to book him.

“At the start, you are not aware of the risk you are running, missing a final after so many years,” he said. “But it is true that, in the second half, when the result was more favourable, you could think about it a bit more. It was a very good decision by [Ancelotti] to take me off. Now to play this final is a dream for me.”

Ramos said his performance had made amends for previous disappointments against Bayern in the competition, such as a late goal ruled out as Madrid were eliminated on away goals in 2007 and a missed penalty in 2012’s semifinal shootout defeat to the Bundesliga side.

“I came here to [Madrid] to win the European Cup,” he said. “It makes your hairs stand on end. This is an important step, to play a Champions League final after so many years.

“I would highlight the collective work, not the individual, but I would be lying if I did not say that on a personal level the Champions League owed me a moment like this. This team has had bad experiences, bad memories -- against Oliver Kahn [in 2007], the missed penalty [in 2012]. I have been able to remove this splinter by contributing to the team with two goals.”

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