Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti was again forced to play down local media concerns about Gareth Bale's selfishness, despite the Wales international's match-winning contribution to Saturday's 3-0 La Liga win over Espanyol at the Bernabeu.
The result was Madrid's first win of 2015 following defeats in La Liga at Valencia last weekend and in the Copa del Rey at Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, and pushed Los Blancos back into a four-point lead in the Primera Division standings.
Madrid took an early 2-0 lead through a James Rodriguez opener and superb Bale free kick, and wrapped up the three points late on through substitute Nacho Fernandez despite being reduced to 10 men after Fabio Coentrao was dismissed early in the second period.
The Blancos coach praised Bale's performance at the postgame news conference, while admitting that the 100 million-euro player might have passed to Cristiano Ronaldo rather than shooting at one point -- an incident which lead some Bernabeu supporters to whistle the former Spurs man.
"Bale played a very good game," Ancelotti said. "He had intensity in his play, he scored, and he was involved in the first goal. In that moment fans asked for a pass to Cristiano, which he did not do, as all forwards in front of goal try to score.
"Bale is a fundamental player for us, like Cristiano. So the fans demand more than others. That is normal, and fair, to me."
Pushed by reporters as to whether Ronaldo was angry at being denied what would have been his first goal from open play in five games, Ancelotti moved to play down what has become an issue.
"Altruism is very important in a team, if there are some selfish moments, we will sort it out, of course," he said. "But we do not have to make a controversy about these things. It is a moment in football, which can often happen.
"The relationship between players is very good; not just Cristiano and Gareth, the team has shown for a long time we are all working in the same direction. I am not going to talk about this anymore."
Ronaldo completed the 90 minutes after being initially rested for last Wednesday's Copa game, and Ancelotti said the 29-year-old had no fitness issues.
"Cristiano is in the same as always, in a good physical condition, playing for the team," he said. "He did not score, but he gave a fantastic assist for James to score the first goal. He looks the same as always to me."
The Italian said he would now choose the strongest team possible for Thursday's second leg at home to Atletico, where his side will need to overturn the 2-0 first-leg deficit.
"We have time to prepare well for the game," he said. "The best team will play as, as I said before. We will try and turn around the result for the first game. We will do the most possible to reach the quarterfinals. Naturally playing at home will help us."
Ancelotti was also asked about Saturday morning's Marca report which claimed that agent Jorge Mendes apparently met Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola at a Munich restaurant last week to discuss a potential 40 million-euro deal for Madrid defender Raphael Varane.
"It was surprising," he said. "As I did not know Varane's agent was Mendes. I spoke with Varane's agent three days ago, and it was someone else, not Jorge Mendes. So I was surprised. But Varane is a Real Madrid player for a long time."
Ancelotti also criticised the decision to show a straight red to Coentrao after both he and Espanyol midfielder David Canas went to ground when challenging for a loose ball.
"It seemed to me a decision impossible to understand," he added. "It made the game difficult for us, but the team is in a good moment mentally. We were able to organise ourselves with one player less."