Zidane happy to take three points after Real Madrid make hard work of Malaga

Zinedine Zidane admitted Real Madrid had made hard work of seeing off a spirited Malaga side as Cristiano Ronaldo netted a late goal on the rebound after his penalty was saved to secure a 3-2 win.

With leaders Barcelona set to play at second-placed Valencia on Sunday night, Los Blancos were looking to make the most of their opportunity to eat into a 10-point deficit.

It seemed all was going to plan when France forward Karim Benzema put the hosts ahead after nine minutes, only for Diego Rolan to equalise for Malaga, who are scrapping for points at the other end of the table.

Real Madrid were soon back in front when Casemiro headed in a corner after 21 minutes.

Gonzalo Castro levelled again early in the second half with a 30-yard effort, but Ronaldo had the final say by lashing home with 14 minutes left after his spot-kick had been stopped by Roberto, who had earlier pulled off a string of fine saves.

“We started the game strongly, and managed to get the first goal which is always important, but they came back at us quickly,” Zidane said at a press conference, as quoted on the club’s official website.

“We got the second and then after the half-hour mark we couldn’t keep the ball. Possession is one of our weapons and we lost the ball too often today.

“The second half was tough. We’re happy with the result because Malaga are a team with real character and at 2-2 with not long left, we managed to net the third goal. Some things were good, and others weren’t exactly as we would have liked.”

The Real Madrid coach continued: “The opposition gives it all they’ve got when they come here. We have to be aware that if we don’t hit the heights, sometimes it can be like today when we find life difficult.

“But we shouldn’t get carried away and say it was a poor performance all round. We can play better, yes; we have to play better, yes. The way we lost the ball today was poor.”

“Today we have got to focus on the three points, and tomorrow we can look back on the match.”

Zidane, who should soon have Wales forward Gareth Bale back in contention after injury, ruled out making any major squad changes in January, despite suggestions he needed to breathe new life into the LaLiga champions.

Real Madrid Training Session – Philip II Arena
Gareth Bale is stepping up his recovery from injury and should soon return to action for Real Madrid (Nick Potts/PA Wire)

“Everyone is staying here. We’re happy with the squad that we have,” the Frenchman said.

“It is a very long season, we have got a big squad with real quality.

“We are going to improve and at the moment we don’t want to talk about people coming and going.”

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