sport

Ancelotti hails Ronaldo role

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti hailed the 'sacrifices' made by Cristiano Ronaldo in his side's 1-0 win in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final tie with Bayern Munich.

The 29-year-old had been absent for Madrid's last four games, including the Copa del Rey final victory over Barcelona, due to a hamstring problem.

Ronaldo returned to Ancelotti's team for the visit of the Bundesliga champions and he had a hand in the only goal of the game as his intelligent pass allowed Fabio Coentrao to pick out Karim Benzema inside the area.

The Portugal star was replaced by Gareth Bale, who had been suffering with flu, after 73 minutes having often been required to operate in a deeper role than usual due to Bayern's pressing and dominance of the ball.

Ancelotti planned to make the change regardless of how things were going and says that the duo will be ready for the second leg in Munich next week.

"I had already decided that Ronaldo wouldn't play 90 minutes because he was out for a while," said Ancelotti in his post-match press conference.

"Bale and Cristiano will both be totally fit for the second leg in Germany. What is important is sacrifice. Di Mar?and Isco made sacrifices and that helped the team a lot.

"Ronaldo wasn't in his best shape, but it was important for us that he played. We are happy.

"Ronaldo sacrificed a lot by playing in a central and defensive position. The whole team has sacrificed a lot."

Immediately from kick-off, Bayern controlled possession of the ball and looked to assert their dominance on the game, while Madrid's biggest threat came on the counter attack.

Ancelotti admitted that his side made a slow start but was pleased with the quality they showed to take the advantage to Germany.

"We were a bit shy in the beginning of the match. We needed more intensity," he said.

"We improved in the second half and tried to control the match more. We can beat anyone thanks to the quality we have, but it's true that we found it hard to win sometimes.

"I think the first half was fantastic because we had three or four clear chances. We could have scored more. Bayern could have scored as well, but Iker was fantastic."

"We worked well together. We had a lot of desire to win. The atmosphere is positive.

"Football is not just about controlling the ball, it's about defending, counter-attacking, but I like to have the ball.

"The fans helped the team a lot. The atmosphere was spectacular. We want to do everything we can to take them to Lisbon.

"We need everything in the second leg - sacrifice, courage, quality. We have a small advantage but nobody knows what will happen."