Zinedine Zidane feels Cristiano Ronaldo proved his worth on the wing as the Portugal star scored twice in 10-man Real Madrid’s 4-2 La Liga win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.
Ronaldo’s double helped Madrid negotiate a difficult test against Athletic at the Santiago Bernabeu, which saw the visitors cancel out his early opener through Javier Eraso before Aritz Aduriz rattled the crossbar.
James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos scored to make it 3-1 before Raphael Varane’s second yellow card – with Ronaldo and Gorka Elustondo then on target in the final stages of an entertaining contest.
Ronaldo has often been used centrally at Madrid over the past year but Zidane believes his side were always likely to cause problems with him out wide.
“We went looking for that because, for me, Cristiano is very important on the wing,” he told reporters.
“He has speed and is very good one-on-one. In addition, Athletic are a very strong opponent and apply pressure all together. They do very well at putting pressure on one side but on the other there is more space.
“The idea was that Cristiano can get out on the wing and play quickly on the other side. That was the first goal – it is very complicated to defend against him.”
Madrid have now scored 20 goals in the four home games since Zidane took charge, although Saturday’s win was undoubtedly the most testing of them all.
“I do not know if it was a more complete performance,” Zidane added. “The important thing is to give everything and win the match.
“In 90 minutes there are difficult moments and we have had those. I’m pleased with every game we have had. Some more, some less – but I’m happy overall.
“In football you will not always have the ball all of the time and [mistakes are] always going to happen. The good thing is that we won the game. We played a very tough opponent and we knew this before the game.
“For the first goal, Varane wants to play the ball to Keylor [Navas], but the next time it happens I will tell you the same – this is football, it can happen.
“What I want to see from a player who makes a mistake is that they take the next opportunity to do put it right.”