MADRID (AFP) – Real Madrid eased the pressure on Zinedine Zidane and delivered a resounding response to their loss to Paris Saint-Germain by winning 1-0 away at high-flying Sevilla in La Liga last Sunday.
Karim Benzema headed in the decisive goal at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan to secure an impressive victory against a Sevilla side that were unbeaten and hoping to return to the top of the table.
Instead, it is Madrid that go level on points with Athletic Bilbao in first place after a controlled and determined performance that was by some distance their best since Zidane’s return as coach in March.
“We have had a quite difficult time but the players reacted,” Zidane said.
His position had come under scrutiny after Madrid’s woeful 3-0 defeat by PSG in the Champions League last Wednesday, a result that continued their bumpy start to the season, following a turbulent summer in the transfer market.
But this win should have done wonders for belief and leaves Barcelona as Spain’s chief club in crisis, with Ernesto Valverde under pressure after they were beaten 2-0 by Granada last Saturday. Madrid are now four points clear of the Catalans after five games played.
“I am very happy as people have been questioning us a lot,” said Zidane. “But we don’t think much about that. We played 90 minutes at a very high level in a difficult stadium.
We must congratulate all the players.”
Not for the first time this season, Zidane singled out Gareth Bale for praise. “Today hard work was the key,” he said. “The effort made by James, Gareth, all of them.”