Ancelotti pleased as Real beat Bayern without much from Ronaldo, Bale

2014-04-24 09:07

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Madrid – Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti praised his team for beating holders Bayern Munich in the Champions League semifinal, first leg without their two biggest names taking a leading role.

Cristiano Ronaldo, top scorer in this season’s competition, struggled last night after returning from injury, and record signing Gareth Bale only played the final 20 minutes following a bout of flu.

Karim Benzema scored the winner in the 19th minute at the Bernabeu, setting Real up nicely ahead of Tuesday’s second leg in Munich as they seek a first appearance in the final since they won their ninth European crown in 2002.

“Without Bale and with Cristiano at 50%, it is not easy to play so well,” Ancelotti said.

The Italian, in his first season in charge, said it had been agreed that Ronaldo would only play part of the match after missing the past four games because of knee and thigh muscle problems, and he was replaced by Bale in the 73rd minute.

“We did not want to run any risks and tire out the muscle,” Ancelotti said.

“Cristiano played well. He wasn’t at 100%, but he sacrificed himself a lot and on Tuesday he will be better, just like Bale.

“We are happy to have him [Ronaldo] back. He worked very hard to help the team.”

Ancelotti said Real had a “small advantage” ahead of the trip to Munich as they chase an elusive 10th European title.

“The result was a good one. We have to know that we will suffer [in Munich], but we will give our all just like today,” he said.

The winners will play Atletico or Chelsea, who drew 0-0 at the Calderon in Madrid on Tuesday, in the final in Lisbon on May 24.

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