No pressure: Ronaldo thrives again at Barcelona's Camp Nou

Santino Honasan on Apr 04, 2016 10:08 AM
No pressure: Ronaldo thrives again at Barcelona's Camp Nou
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the winning goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid, dubbed 'el clasico', at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, April 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

TALES AZZONI
AP Sports Writer

  
MADRID (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo is quick to praise himself almost every chance he gets. But he backs it up with decisive goals in the toughest of places.

It's especially true when playing at Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium, where Ronaldo scored Real Madrid's winning goal in a 2-1 victory Saturday. The result ended Barcelona's record 39-game unbeaten streak and possibly put Madrid back in contention for the Spanish league title.

It was Ronaldo's 10th goal in the last nine matches he's played at the famed venue and 13th overall in the last 16 "clasicos."

Ronaldo scored at least one goal in eight of the nine games he's played at the Camp Nou since 2012.

"It's difficult to be Cristiano Ronaldo but I don't think he needs to prove anything to anybody," Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said. "He has showed over the years what a great player he is."

The Portuguese striker didn't play brilliantly Saturday but proved decisive in the final minutes at the Camp Nou. Just before scoring his goal with a right-footed cross shot from inside the area, he had already assisted Gareth Bale for a goal that appeared to be badly called off.

On Sunday, a photo of Madrid players celebrating in the changing room was published across most sports sites around the world with Ronaldo standing out, wearing only his underwear and showing off his muscles.

"A player like him will always want to score, it's always satisfying," Ramos said.

It wasn't long ago that Ronaldo publicly said that if his teammates were at his level, the team would be doing much better. His comments came after a 1-0 home loss to city rival Atletico Madrid in February. In six games since then, Ronaldo scored eight goals, including twice in two important Champions League games against Roma in the tournament's round of 16.

Ronaldo, who is the leading scorer in both the Champions League and the Spanish league, reached 350 official goals with Madrid last month. On Saturday he earned his 250th victory with Los Blancos.

"The players that we've got up top make it easier for us," Real Madrid left back Marcelo said. "The whole team worked hard, from (goalkeeper) Keylor (Navas) right through to Cristiano, and we did a really great job. These three points give us a boost to keep on fighting."

The victory cut the team's deficit to Barcelona to seven points with seven rounds to go. It also helped Madrid avenge a humiliating 4-0 loss to the rival earlier this season and boosted the team's confidence heading into the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Madrid plays at Wolfsburg in the first leg of the quarters on Wednesday.

Madrid will still be savoring the important win over the Spanish rivals, when Ronaldo was the one who shined on a night that Lionel Messi's team took the time to honor the late Johan Cruyff.

It was the type of victory that gave the Portuguese great even more right to brag about himself.

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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