Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini has 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.
Ronaldo was starting his first home match in over two months following an ankle injury and had a busy afternoon, setting up Madrid’s first goal, scoring their last, winning and then missing a penalty, before seeing red in the closing seconds.
The Portuguese first yellow card came after he removed his shirt while celebrating his goal, while the referee issued a second 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 be too critical 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.
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 apologised for his behaviour during 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.”