06 Mar Zinedine Zidane says Real Madrid back on track after last-16 win over PSG
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane believes their season is recovering as the defending champions cruised into the Champions League quarter-finals.
Second-half goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Casemiro secured a 2-1 win on the night and a 5-2 aggregate victory at PSG on Tuesday.
Edinson Cavani’s fortunate equaliser did briefly bring PSG level on the night after Marco Verratti was sent off following a second yellow card for dissent.
Real are chasing a third straight Champions League crown and Zidane, under fire with his side 15 points behind LaLiga leaders Barcelona, called on his side to stick together.
He told the post-match press conference: “We’ve had difficult moments in the Liga and Copa del Rey, but it’s always difficult to maintain the same level while playing every three days.
“You can’t always win everything, but we’re winning now in the Liga and we have to look ahead to our game with Eibar on Saturday.”
“Paris were perhaps not as good, but that’s maybe because we played well. After the sending-off and the second goal, it got more difficult for them.”
Gareth Bale came on as a second-half substitute with speculation surrounding his Real future and Zidane insisted he remains part of his plans.
He added: “I respect all the players, including Gareth Bale. He wasn’t a starter in either leg, but he’s a very important player who causes lots of trouble to the opposition. We have to stay united, as we were tonight.”
Ronaldo headed the opener six minutes after the break before Verratti walked for collecting a second yellow card.
Cavani levelled when the ball bounced in off him but Casemiro’s deflected strike won it.
PSG are also likely to face punishment from UEFA after the game was briefly stopped because of smoke from the flares of the home fans.
The French giants are yet to win the Champions League and former boss Laurent Blanc was dismissed after guiding them to the quarter-finals in three consecutive seasons.
They have now exited the competition in the last 16 for the last two years under Unai Emery.
He said: “We all want to win this competition quickly. We’ll continue with patience, and build a team that can win.
“I’m sure this team can win the Champions League. The supporters will see that Paris will win this competition one day.
“Losing to Madrid is not a disappointment, but going out in the last 16 is. But, the first leg was the key because we were better over the first 80 minutes than them.
“They controlled 60 per cent of this match and we couldn’t do enough in the 40 per cent we controlled.”