Zidane upbeat for Kiev 'special game' despite draw

It was a proud moment for Real goalkeeper Luca Zidane Fernandez on his debut but the coach's son misjudged a long ball into the path of Villarreal midfielder Samu Castillejo, who dribbled past him to equalise in the 2-2 draw in their final match of t
It was a proud moment for Real goalkeeper Luca Zidane Fernandez on his debut but the coach's son misjudged a long ball into the path of Villarreal midfielder Samu Castillejo, who dribbled past him to equalise in the 2-2 draw in their final match of the LaLiga season.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MADRID • Zinedine Zidane declared that Real Madrid are ready for the Champions League final even though Villarreal scored twice to snatch a 2-2 draw on Saturday.

The Frenchman has rotated his squad heavily in order to keep his side fresh for the Kiev showpiece against Liverpool this Saturday but he started an almost full-strength side for their final LaLiga fixture, even though little was riding on the game.

He did rest goalkeeper Keylor Navas in order to hand a debut to his son Luca, but fielded an otherwise first-choice side against Villarreal, starting Gareth Bale alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at the expense of Karim Benzema.

Bale opened the scoring in the 10th minute - his fourth goal in three league games. Ronaldo doubled the advantage before half-time, nodding home a nonchalant Marcelo cross from the outside of the Brazilian's foot as Real strolled into the interval.

But Ronaldo and Luka Modric were taken off shortly after the hour and the game turned on a brilliant shot from Roger Martinez, who jinked inside from the left and found the far top corner.

Samu Castillejo then took advantage of some hesitation from Luca, who was born a month before his father inspired France to win the 1998 World Cup, to equalise five minutes from time.

 

  • Years since Real Madrid last finished outside the league's top two.

"I am happy for his debut, it is an important day for him and his coach," Zidane senior said, noting that the 20-year-old was the only player from the squad who had not started this year. "For his father, we will see what he says at home."

The draw means Real finished third in the league and their attention will quickly turn to Liverpool.

"I haven't got my starting XI for the Champions League final in my head. We're ready," Zidane said.

"Also we haven't picked up any injuries tonight, which was important. We're ready for this last match and Kiev final, which is the most special game of the season."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2018, with the headline 'Zidane upbeat for Kiev 'special game' despite draw'. Print Edition | Subscribe