Real delight for Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane
Under-pressure Madrid manager Zidane relieved after Benzema's strike ensures Spanish giants bounce back from recent Champions League loss to PSG with a 1-0 win over high-flying Sevilla
Madrid: Real Madrid eased the pressure on Zinedine Zidane and delivered a resounding response to their loss to PSG by winning 1-0 away at top side Sevilla in La Liga on 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 on Wednesday, a result that continued their bumpy start to the season, following a turbulent summer in the transfer market. But this win should do 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 on Saturday. Madrid are now four points clear of the Catalans.
"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."
Sevilla's coach Julen Lopetegui was sacked by Madrid 11 months ago, 139 days after taking the job that cost him the chance to lead Spain at the World Cup. He insisted on Saturday there was no desire for revenge but it is hard to imagine victory would not have brought a little extra satisfaction. Zidane was asked about his own future as well, several times, and while he maintained he still feels the full backing of the club
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