Ronaldo cancelled out Danny Welbeck's opener in the first half of the UEFA Champions League last-16 tie at the Bernabeu when he climbed to meet Angel di Maria's corner with an expertly timed header.
But the Portugal international, who spent six seasons at Old Trafford between 2003-09, was muted in his celebration, simply acknowledging the Real Madrid fans.
Carrick hailed the former Red Devils man, telling Sky Sports: "I think he respects the club and the fans. He had a great time at the club.
"Fair play to him for being respectful like he was."
Carrick was disappointed to concede a goal in the manner United did but feels they recovered well.
"It's never nice conceding goals anyway but it was a bit of a simple goal to concede really - a cross and a free header," he added.
"But we moved on and we were strong for the rest of the game."
Phil Jones, another United player tasked with trying to contain the Portuguese ace, agrees his side should have done better in the build-up to Ronaldo's goal and believes they should take lessons from it going into the second leg at Old Trafford.
"We should have probably stopped the cross earlier. We know he can do that and we know we've got to stop that," he said.
"He's a fantastic player. You know he's going to create chances at some point in the game, it's just how many he gets.
"Tonight he didn't get too many, and we'll try and do the same at Old Trafford."