Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane praised his players for a “perfect” performance in Tuesday’s Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain.
Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Casemiro, either side of Edinson Cavani’s strike, gave Madrid a 2-1 win at Parc des Princes and a 5-2 aggregate triumph in the last-16 encounter.
With Luka Modric and Toni Kroos short of full fitness, Zidane opted to play Mateo Kovacic alongside Casemiro in midfield, with Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio out wide, and all four delivered impressive displays as PSG suffered their first home defeat in all competitions since March 2016.
Captain Sergio Ramos hailed Zidane’s approach after the match but the head coach insisted the credit belonged to the players.
“The plan went well. We played a serious game from the beginning, played high, pressing. We had a perfect match,” he said.
“I’m here to put in and take off players, and prepare the game well. Tactically, we played the game as expected. In the end, it’s the players who win games. That’s the key. We believe in what we do.”
1 – Casemiro in this game against PSG:
56 passes completed (57)
4 tackles won (5)
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 6, 2018
Unai Emery’s PSG, without the injured Neymar, rarely looked likely to mount a comeback in the tie and managed just three shots on target in the match.
They also saw Marco Verratti sent off shortly before Cavani’s goal, the midfielder given a second yellow card for dissent after he was not awarded a free-kick.
Zidane felt that decision helped his side but insisted PSG had played well across the two matches.
“I don’t think it was that much,” he said when asked about the difference between the teams. “They did very well at the [Santiago] Bernabeu. They didn’t do so well at home, but that’s also because we did very well. Maybe the red card changed things.”
Madrid, chasing a third Champions League trophy in three years, have saved their best performances for Europe this season, with their inconsistent domestic form having seen them fall 15 points behind LaLiga leaders Barcelona and exit the Copa del Rey to Leganes.
“It’s true we’ve had some difficult moments in the league and the cup. It’s part of football,” Zidane added.
“It’s difficult to maintain that level all the time. You have to accept the tough moments and keep working. You can’t always win everything.”
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