Goalkeeper Kiko Casilla felt James Rodriguez showed his importance to Real Madrid by opening the scoring in the 2-0 LaLiga win over Espanyol.
James has struggled for a regular place in Zinedine Zidane’s plans and was making his first start of the season at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat on Sunday, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale sat out due to illness and a hip injury respectively.
The Colombia playmaker grasped his chance in first-half stoppage time with a superb individual effort, setting Madrid on course to preserve their 100 per cent record this term before Karim Benzema sealed the points with 19 minutes to play.
“I don’t think in the first 20 minutes we were playing like we want to play,” former Espanyol keeper Casilla said.
“They have also got players who play very intensively and are very quick.
“But we’ve got a quality side and James’ goal was incredible. He’s a very important player, he showed today what he can do and the goals he can score.”
With the match in the balance early on, Casilla saved well to deny Leo Baptistao and was also on hand to thwart substitute Felipe Caicedo as Madrid closed out victory.
“I think they were two important saves, looking at the result. I’m very pleased with the win,” he said.
“We keep picking up points, we’re still leaders and we’re right at the top of the table.”
Casilla made 126 appearances for Espanyol between 2008 and 2015 and the 29-year-old added: “It’s a special place for me. They treated me really well while I was here. I’ve only got good words for the people here.
“It is thanks to them that I’m at Real Madrid now.”