Ruthless Ronaldo closes on Raul in night of Real landmarks

Cristiano’s 38th goal of the season in a 2-0 win at Elche put him joint third on the list of Madrid’s all-time goalscorers, with his coach and keeper also making marks

Ruthless Ronaldo closes on Raul in night of Real landmarks

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It is only a matter of time. Cristiano Ronaldo’s header in the 2-0 win at Elche on Sunday saw the three-time Ballon d’Or winner draw level with Santillana on 290 goals for Real Madrid. The Portuguese now has just two players ahead of him on the scoring charts for Los Blancos: Alfredo Di Stefano and Raul.

Raul, now playing for New York Cosmos in the United States, believes Ronaldo will reach his record of 323 goals sooner rather than later.

“I’m certain he’ll break my record, just like he broke the Champions League record,” Raul told Goal. “The way he’s playing at Real Madrid right now, it’s just a question of time.

“Whether it’s one year, two years, three or four, surely he’ll do it. We’re talking about one of the best players in the history of football. There’s a big difference between Ronaldo and (Lionel Messi) and everyone else in the world.”

While Messi had a bad day at the office as Barcelona lost to Malaga, Ronaldo was clearly in the mood after ending his recent mini-drought with a goal against Schalke in the Champions League. He hit the post with a curler early on, forced Elche goalkeeper Tyton into a smart save soon afterwards and was a constant threat for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

Madrid went in on level terms at the break despite their first-half dominance in which Karim Benzema had been unfortunate to see his overhead kick ruled out for offside. But the Frenchman took advantage of a fortuitous rebound to tap Real in front in the second half after Cristiano’s centre. The Portuguese headed home a superb cross from Isco to take his goal tally up another notch.

The Portuguese drew level with Santillana on 290 goals for Madrid, but the legendary Spain striker needed 645 matches to reach that tally, while Ronaldo has achieved it in just 281 games.

Since he was overtaken by Messi on goals scored this season, Ronaldo has responded again as the two finest footballers in the world inspire each other to even greater heights. And Cristiano is now back in front: 38-37.

Messi may catch and overtake Ronaldo yet this term, but nobody at Madrid will come close. Providing he stays at the club beyond the summer, Cristiano is set to obliterate Real’s all-time record for goals scored as he closes in on legends Di Stefano (308 goals) and Raul (323). In fact, he may even achieve it in 2014-15.

Ancelotti also reached a landmark as he took charge of his 100th Madrid match. The Italian has won 78 of those and his win percentage is the finest in the club’s history, one better than the 77 managed by previous boss Jose Mourinho.

“We have done well in these 100 games,” the 55-year-old said afterwards. “Now I hope we will do even better in the next 100!”

And between the sticks, goalkeeper Iker Casillas was appearing in his 500th Liga game for Real. Solid and dependable on Sunday following his shaky showing in the recent derby defeat at Atletico, the club captain’s legend status at the Santiago Bernabeu is beyond question, even if his short-term future is.

“I’m grateful to Real Madrid for these 500 games,” the Spain skipper said after the game. “I’m really happy to keep playing games and I hope there are many more to come.”

More important than any of that, however, was the win which sees Madrid draw a line under their recent poor performances. They lead La Liga by four points again after Barca surprisingly lost at home to Malaga on Saturday.

“I’m surprised Barcelona lost,” Ancelotti added afterwards. “They were playing well. But this league will be decided on the last day of the season.”

However, he added: “With this attitude, we are going to win a lot of games. The team understood that this was an important one.”

So after some troubled times of late, it was not only a day of milestones for Real Madrid, but perhaps a landmark victory as well. Back on track.

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