Milan: Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane lavished praise on Cristiano Ronaldo after the three-time world player of the year appeared to struggle through the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid on Saturday.
Ronaldo was subdued for long spells but fired home the winning penalty to give Real a 5-3 success in the shootout following a 1-1 draw after extra-time and then performed his shirtless celebration, proudly showing off his muscular torso.
"He wasn't injured. He gave us the win, he was fine, he fought hard and he ran a lot like everyone in the team," Zidane told reporters. "He has always helped his teammates."
Ronaldo scored 16 times in the Champions League campaign to finish as top scorer in the competition for the fourth season in a row, albeit a goal short of the record he set two seasons ago.
He has won the Champions League three times, twice with Real and once with Manchester United, but still one fewer than his great rival, Lionel Messi of Barcelona.
"We're really happy, finals are always hard," said Ronaldo. "The side was great and sacrificed a lot. It's impressive. I knew I was going to score the winning penalty; I was confident."
Fromre Real playmaker Zidane, who became the seventh person to win the Champions League as a player and coach, said that work, and more work, was the secret of Real's success.
"We worked so much," said the Frenchman, the first coach from his country to win the trophy. "I believe a lot in work, work is the most important thing and everyone has done a good job."
"We suffered a lot physically and some players had cramp, but it's normal," he added.
"Mentally, there is a lot of pressure but you have to fight. We have worked a lot and when you get something as big as the Champions (League), it means a lot for the staff and the supporters."