Zidane delighted with 'great performance'

It's a real howler for Real Madrid's Eden Hazard, who misses an open goal after rounding Galatasaray goalkeeper Fernando Muslera in their Champions League match. PHOTO: REUTERS
It's a real howler for Real Madrid's Eden Hazard, who misses an open goal after rounding Galatasaray goalkeeper Fernando Muslera in their Champions League match. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISTANBUL • Zinedine Zidane praised his players for fighting back from criticism, as a goal from Toni Kroos gave Real Madrid their first Champions League win this season with a 1-0 victory at Galatasaray.

The triumph on Tuesday also eased much of the pressure on the French coach, after Real went into the match bottom of Group A with just a single point after two games.

They are now second, behind Paris Saint-Germain, who have nine points from three games.

"I'm delighted for the whole team because there's been a lot of criticism and we showed good character," said Zidane.

"Tonight, we were focused right from the off. We created a lot of chances and I would have liked to get a second and even a third.

"We worked hard and were strong and that's what got us the win. We defended and attacked really well.

"We needed to produce a great performance and we've done just that and the players deserved the victory."

ALL'S WELL

It doesn't worry me. He's going to improve more. The important thing is that he continues to have chances, because he's going to put them in.

ZINEDINE ZIDANE, Real Madrid coach, insisting that he was not concerned with the poor form of Eden Hazard, who missed a sitter but delivered an assist that helped Toni Kroos score the winner against Galatasaray.

Real are within one point of La Liga leaders Barcelona (19) after nine matches, but this season's start in Europe has left Zidane firmly in the spotlight.

Former Real boss Jose Mourinho, out of a job since he was sacked by Manchester United last December, has been linked with a return to the Santiago Bernabeu should the 47-year-old be dismissed.

But Zidane can breathe a little easier now, with Marca declaring on its cover yesterday that "Madrid know how to win finals".

An article in the Spanish daily commented that the Frenchman "comes out of this match reinforced, although he's not yet fully bullet proof".

In the 18th minute at the Turk Telekom Stadium, Eden Hazard cut the ball back to the German midfielder Kroos, whose effort found its way into the roof of the net via a deflection.

The Belgian forward, who arrived in a £150 million (S$204.4 million) move from Chelsea in the summer, later missed an open goal but Zidane insisted that he was not concerned by the player's poor form.

"It doesn't worry me," he said. "He's going to improve more. The important thing is that he continues to have chances, because he's going to put them in."

Meanwhile, the rearranged Clasico between Barcelona and Real will be played on Dec 18, the Spanish Football Federation confirmed on Tuesday. Spain's most prestigious fixture, which was due to take place at the Nou Camp on Saturday, was postponed last week because of violent pro-independence protests in Catalonia.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2019, with the headline 'Zidane delighted with 'great performance''. Print Edition | Subscribe