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Dec 6, 2009

Pellegrini defends Ronaldo red card

Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini defended Cristiano Ronaldo after the world's most expensive player was sent off for picking up two yellow cards against Almeria at the Bernabeu on Saturday.

• Real Madrid 4-2 Almeria
• Ronaldo apologises for red card

Ronaldo was starting his first home match in over two months following an ankle injury and was at the heart of most of the action in a 4-2 win for Madrid.

Ronaldo set up Madrid's first goal, scored their last, won and then missed a penalty, before seeing red at the death.

The former Manchester United star's first caution came after he removed his shirt while celebrating his goal, while the referee brandished a second yellow when he kicked out at Juanma Ortiz.

The Portugal international will now miss next weekend's game at fourth-placed Valencia, but Pellegrini has refused to come down too hard on the 24-year-old.

"It's a shame that he saw a yellow card for taking his shirt off; he should've avoided that,'' the Chilean coach told the club's official website.

"His double booking was fair because he took his shirt off and because he was involved in a series of fouls.

"He is nevertheless a creative player who doesn't deserve to be sent off; other players make many more fouls and never see a red card.''

Pellegrini also played down Ronaldo's lack of celebration following Karim Benzema's goal in the 83rd minute, a strike that saw Madrid establish a 3-2 lead.

Benzema crashed the ball home after Ronaldo had seen his penalty saved by Almeria goalkeeper Diego Alves, and Pellegrini said: "I don't think Cristiano did anything wrong.

"He lamented not scoring from the penalty, which is normal. He always celebrates every goal with his team-mates. Each person interprets things as they want, but I can guarantee you he is a good team-mate.''

Ronaldo was contrite after the victory, which left Madrid five points behind leaders Barcelona having played one game fewer.

"I'm human and I made a mistake,'' Ronaldo said. "I have my flaws too, but I am a professional who doesn't like to miss or lose.

"I was sad after missing the penalty and that's why I didn't celebrate the goal that followed. I am a perfectionist, but I'm glad Karim scored. I was sent off because I reacted instinctively. I wish to apologise for that.''

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