Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has asserted his team’s 3-0 thrashing of city rivals Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the Champions Leg semi-finals is one of the best performances during his tenure.
Real rode on a hat-trick by star forward Cristiano Ronaldo to register a comprehensive win in front of their home crowd at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium here on Tuesday night.
“I’m not sure whether we’ve put in a better performance since I took over. We produced a great display and it was far from easy to go out and score three goals tonight. Our opening half an hour was fantastic and we had a lot of chances to have got a second, but we didn’t manage to do so until after the break,” Zidane told the official Real Madrid website.
“We’re very happy with our performance, the three goals and, above all, to have kept a clean sheet here at home. This was a great performance and perhaps our best yet,” he added.
Zidane however, warned the Real Madrid players not to go overboard with their celebrations and retain their focus till the very end of their campaign.
“Today we’re entitled to be happy and enjoy how we performed out there. There’s still a long way to go, both in La Liga and the Champions League. We haven’t won anything yet.
“I don’t think that you could say that we’re in a state of euphoria. We’ll enjoy this one tonight and then rest up. Tomorrow we’ll turn our attentions to what’s an important game on Saturday,” the France legend said.
“There’s still a second leg to come. We managed the game very well tonight, we prepared well for it and were aware of our strengths and theirs. You could certainly say that we were the better side today. The 3-0 scoreline reflects what a good performance it was. However, there’s still the second leg and we’ll have to work hard and battle and we’re sure to have to dig in there.
There’s no such thing as an easy game in football. We know that we’re going to have to perform just as well and put in a perfect performance if we’re to progress,” he added.
“I’m happy. Every day I’m enjoy my work with the players. However, we haven’t won anything yet and we need to be just as on it as we always are. I’m delighted that we’ve put in a great performance tonight. It’s far from easy to score three goals against tough opposition, but we’ve got to keep going”.
Zidane, who had played a starring role during France’s run to the title at the 1998 World Cup, also praised Ronaldo for his match winning performance.
Ronaldo’s hat-trick on Tuesday night brought his tally to 33 goals in all competitions this season. He now has a total of 50 goals in the knock-out stages of the Champions League for Real Madrid.
The Portuguese star has scored seven goals in the knock-out stages of this year’s Champions League, one more than what the entire Atletico team has collectively managed.
“I don’t know whether it’s all down to him being rested. He’s got goals in him and he’s unique. It’s important for him to rest from time to time and he knows that. I’m pleased because whenever a player comes off, whoever comes on does a great job, it’s impressive. We know exactly how we have to play,” Zidane said.
“Today we went with Isco in the starting line-up, operating between the lines, and he did a marvellous job. Then, when we brought Lucas and Marco on that gave a bit more balance defensively and offered us greater width down the flanks. I’m pleased with all of my players.”