Jose Mourinho has defended Cristiano Ronaldo's form on the eve of Real Madrid's Copa del Rey quarterfinal against Barcelona, describing the Portugal forward's performance against Mallorca as his best since the coach's arrival at the club.

Ronaldo has come under criticism after squandering chances in a 3-1 loss to Barcelona last month, but Mourinho says the player's work ethic in the second half of Saturday's 2-1 win was better than ''all the goals he's scored, the hat tricks, the winning goal in the cup final.''

Ronaldo has only two goals in 13 matches against Barcelona going into the first leg on Wednesday. The former Ballon d'Or winner has scored 112 goals in 116 appearances for Madrid.