Cristiano Ronaldo fails to fire but Real Madrid back to winning ways after Sergio Ramos double

Ballon d’Or winner wasteful in front of goal but Real Madrid captain shows striker’s instinct to give La Liga leaders 2-1 victory over Malaga

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 January, 2017, 5:02pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 January, 2017, 5:08pm

Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos gave yet another demonstration of his attacking talents by grabbing both goals in his side’s 2-1 win over Malaga on Saturday to rack up 50 career goals in La Liga.

The Spain international is famed for his late, decisive goals, including in the 2014 Champions League final, the 2016 UEFA Super Cup and against arch-rivals Barcelona last month, although against Malaga he made his mark in the first half.

The captain leapt to send a crashing header into the top corner in the 35th minute and eight minutes later got the final touch to another whipped set-piece cross from Toni Kroos to double Real’s lead.

Ramos’ ruthlessness in front of goal contrasted with the profligacy of Real’s talisman and all-time top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, who failed to score any of the four chances falling his way, while strikers Karim Benzema and Alvaro Morata were also wasteful.

The defender’s double took him ahead of Morata and Benzema as Real’s second-top scorer in the league with six goals, behind only Ronaldo, who has 12.

He also reached a personal milestone in bettering his previous highest season tally of five league goals, achieved in 2007-8, and became only the third defender to score 50 times in La Liga, following Fernando Hierro, who hit 105 goals, and Ronald Koeman (67).

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Ramos is Real’s third-top-scoring defender of all time in all competitions with 66 goals, and is just two shy of Roberto Carlos in second, although he has some way to go before reaching Hierro’s 127 goals .

Unlike set-piece specialists Hierro, Carlos and Koeman, Ramos rarely takes free kicks or penalties, although he did convert a “Panenka” spot-kick in the 3-3 draw with Sevilla in Copa del Rey earlier in the month.

His brutal efficiency in the opposing box stems from his time as a forward as a youth player before he converted to a right back when breaking through at Sevilla, moving to the centre of defence in 2011 on the advice of Jose Mourinho.

“Few defenders go into almost every game with the mentality of scoring like I do,” Ramos said in a 2014 interview with GQ. “I consider myself a defender with the soul of a centre forward”.

“We all know what Sergio is like, he has that ruthlessness that is almost impossible to defend against,” Malaga coach Marcelo Romero said on Saturday.

“We all knew the ball was going to come to him. We tried to get an extra man in his zone, but sometimes he’s just impossible to stop.”

Real coach Zinedine Zidane added: “We all know what he gives us, especially at set pieces, and today he was phenomenal.”