Zinedine Zidane praised goalscorers James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema after a 2-0 triumph at Espanyol extended Real Madrid’s phenomenal winning run in LaLiga.
Madrid made it four wins from four in the current campaign to lead Barcelona by three points with victory at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat and 16 consecutive LaLiga wins in total – matching the mark established by their bitter rivals in 2010-11.
Zidane was unable to call on Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, who sat out the match through illness and a hip injury respectively, but James stepped up on his first start of the season with a superb solo effort in first-half stoppage time.
Benzema led the line tirelessly and had just rewards for his efforts when Lucas Vazquez’s cross allowed him to open his account for the season 19 minutes from time.
“They are talented players and can make a difference,” Zidane told reporters after the match.
“They did, James and Karim, but the important thing is what they did for the group.
“I’m especially happy for [James]. The first goal was his, so I’m very happy with his performance – not only for the goal but also for the work he has done playing behind behind Karim as a number 10. I saw him play well. “
Zidane wished to play down equalling a record set by Barcelona during their trophy laden years under Pep Guardiola and challenged his players to retain the winning habit.
“Yes, I like it, even if [the record] is an anecdote because in the end it is the work all the guys are doing.
“They are doing phenomenally but it is important to keep adding. LaLiga is very long.”
Holding midfielder Casemiro departed during the first half with an apparent calf problem and Zidane is unsure whether the Brazilian will be available for the midweek clash with Villarreal.
“These things happen sometimes,” he added. “He has a strong blow and we play again in two days. We will assess how he is tomorrow.”