Rafael Benitez hails Real Madrid hat-trick hero Cristiano Ronaldo

Real Madrid coach Rafael Benitez hailed the performance of goal-scoring hero Cristiano Ronaldo as his team saw off Shakhtar Donetsk 4-0 in their Champions League opener on Tuesday.

Ronaldo scored three second-half goals – two from the penalty spot – after Karim Benzema had put Real ahead on the half-hour.

The Portugal international had already silenced his critics at the weekend when, having failed to score since a pre-season friendly in July, he hit five goals past Espanyol in Saturday’s 6-0 triumph in Barcelona.

When asked about Ronaldo, Benitez told the Spanish press: “What surprises me is that the media beat around the bush about what is said rather than what is done on the pitch.

“There is no debate, he is the best in the world. I have great admiration for him.”

The Spanish giants, who have yet to concede a goal this season, wasted plenty of chances early on before Benzema put them on their way.

“It was a difficult game,” Benitez said. “Shakhtar held possession and that complicated us in terms of defending.

“It wasn’t easy even though we had opportunities.

“I’m happy that we created chances, that we took advantage of some of them and the fact that we didn’t concede.”

Real have not conceded so far this season, keeping clean sheets in their opening three Primera Division games prior to this match.

Tuesday’s win at the Bernabeu stadium lifted them to the top of Group A, level on three points with French champions Paris St Germain, who won 2-0 at home to Malmo.

It was not all good news for Real with Gareth Bale, Raphael Varane and captainSergio Ramos sustaining injuries.

Bale hurt his left calf, Varane suffered a knock on his ankle and Ramos injured his shoulder.

“The injuries are the only negative aspect of the night,” Benitez said.

“Bale had a spasm in his soleus muscle and we have to wait one or two days to know the extent of the injury.

“Ramos and Varane picked up knocks and I’m more optimistic about them.

“With Bale we have to wait.”

Real host Granada in La Liga on Saturday and return to European competition on September 30 with a trip to Sweden to face Malmo FF.