Zidane worried by poor form despite win

Real Madrid's coach Zinedine Zidane reacts before match, on March 13, 2016.
Real Madrid's coach Zinedine Zidane reacts before match, on March 13, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID • Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has admitted that he is concerned by his side's performance after they needed Casemiro's injury-time winner to squeeze past Las Palmas 2-1 in La Liga on Sunday.

Zidane's men were outplayed by Las Palmas for large spells on their first visit to the Canary Islands in 15 years, but made the hosts pay for poor marking at set-pieces as Sergio Ramos and Casemiro both netted from corners.

"I go away happy with the result, but a little worried with what I saw in the second half," said Zidane.

Victory closed the gap on La Liga leaders Barcelona to 12 points. But, with only nine games to play, Real's remaining hope of a trophy this season is the Champions League.

The 10-time European champions progressed to the quarter-finals with a similarly unconvincing display to see off Roma in midweek, but Zidane insisted his side's standards must improve if they are to go further in the Champions League.

"We aren't thinking about the Champions League. The players were thinking about what they had to do in the game today but the truth is, we gave away the ball an incredible number of times," he said.

"If we want to aspire to something in the future, we have to play better. That is clear because playing like this, we won't go anywhere."

Real were bailed out on a number of occasions by goalkeeper Keylor Navas, but Willian Jose looked to have finally handed Las Palmas a share of the spoils when he cancelled out Ramos' first-half header three minutes from time.

However, Casemiro popped up unmarked to head home in stoppage time before Ramos saw his 20th red card as a Real player for a second bookable offence.

Both Ramos and central defensive partner Pepe will now be suspended against Sevilla on Sunday.

"I don't think football is unjust because we scored from two set-pieces and set-pieces are part of football too," said Zidane. "Las Palmas did very well and caused us a lot of problems, but it is our contribution that bothers me."

Meanwhile, Valencia boss Gary Neville's troubles continued as he branded his side's performance "unacceptable" in losing their local derby 1-0 to bottom club Levante.

Neville has now won just three of 15 La Liga games in charge with Valencia rooted in mid-table mediocrity in 12th, just eight points above the relegation zone.

Valencia's season now hinges upon overturning a 1-0 first-leg deficit at home to Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League on Thursday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2016, with the headline 'Zidane worried by poor form despite win'. Print Edition | Subscribe