Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said he remained “positive” about their La Liga title chances following Sunday evening’s dramatic 3-2 win against Valencia at the Bernabeu.
Madrid seemed in control against mid-table Valencia after goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema made it 2-0 by half-time. But the visitors kept fighting and a dramatic second half saw Rodrigo Moreno pull one back, Ronaldo nab a second of the game, and Andre Gomes 20 yarder make it 2-3.
Even after Rodrigo was sent off for dissent, the visitors’ 10 men kept pressing for an equaliser and Madrid were frantically defending their penalty area during added time — when a goal for Valencia would have meant Barcelona were declared champions due to results elsewhere.
But Zidane’s side held on for what was an 11th straight La Liga win and now go to already safe Deportivo La Coruna next Saturday hoping for a win, and for Barca to slip in Granada, to give them the unlikeliest of title victories.
The Los Blancos coach told his postgame news conference that “anything could happen in football” and his team knew they must focus on making sure they win their own game.
“I’m always positive and know that anything can happen in football,” Zidane said.
“We must be aware of that, give everything, and keep going until the end, to see what happens. The first thing is our own game — it will not be easy, and we all know that.
“Then I believe it can happen — Granada must play their own game, even though they are safe. We will do the most we can to win our own match.”
During the second half, Zidane substituted top scorer Ronaldo, while also giving minutes to reserve full-back Alvaro Arbeloa who is leaving the club this summer. The Frenchman admitted his team had found it difficult to close the win out.
“In the second part we had a bit of confusion ourselves,” he said. “But that can happen sometimes. That is part of a game — and in the end we had some difficulties, but against an opponent who played their game too.
“We got the three points which is the most important. The good thing is the team, as always, we have known how to suffer until the end, and we are all happy.”
Ronaldo’s brace took him to 33 in La Liga this season, but with just one game remaining the Portuguese remains four behind Barca’s Luis Suarez in both the La Liga pichichi and European Golden Boot top scorer races.