'He didn't score but he was alive' – Ancelotti defends Ronaldo showing

The Italian believes the forward played a decisive role in Gareth Bale’s goals and jokingly suggested he would be considering his goalkeeping options for the Clasico

Carlo Ancelotti has defended Cristiano Ronaldo’s performance in the 2-0 win over Levante, insisting the forward was “alive” in the match.

Ronaldo played a part in both of Gareth Bale’s first-half goals. The first came when the Welshman side-footed home following a Ronaldo shot that was cleared off the line, before he deflected in another effort from the Portuguese to double the lead.

The 30-year-old Ballon d’Or holder cut a visibly frustrated figure as he failed to find the net himself but Ancelotti maintains he delivered an influential performance.

“I think the first half was good, we played well, with good intensity and quality. We had control of the game,” he told a press conference.

“In the second half we were more relaxed.

“I think Cristiano’s alive because the first goal came from a shot which the defender saved and then Bale scored the second in the same way. Cristiano didn’t score but was alive in the game.”

Bale’s double came after the €100 million man had been on the receiving end of mounting criticism for his recent displays, and Ancelotti felt he looked more determined on Sunday.

“I saw a more motivated Bale, with more desire, and the whole team had more concentration. Everyone did well in the first half.

“We now have to do it for the whole game on Sunday [against Barcelona],” he said.

Ancelotti also praised the performances of the returning Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos ahead of the crucial Clasico at Camp Nou next week.

“Modric and Ramos gave an important contribution to the team. Modric has the quality, Sergio the personality. I think we’ll arrive at Camp Nou with the whole squad available,” he added.

“The first half gives me confidence, the second half worries me. But it’ll be a different game. We need our best, and we can win with our best.”

Ancelotti had given assurances that under-fire Iker Casillas would start the Clasico despite Keylor Navas playing on Sunday, but he did suggest – albeit jokingly – that he now has some doubts over who to start between the posts next week.

“I have a clear XI for Camp Nou, I don’t think there’ll be any surprises. I’ve a doubt over the goalkeeper!”

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