Zidane hopes late Leganes win is turning point for Real Madrid
Zinedine Zidane believes a last-gasp victory at Leganes in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals could prove to be a turning point for Real Madrid, who broke a three-game winless streak thanks to a 1-0 success.
Leganes had impressed in their maiden appearance at this stage of the competition, Jose Naranjo and Claudio Beauvue forcing good saves from Kiko Casilla, with Madrid appearing toothless in the absence of star forwards Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.
But Marco Asensio's first goal in 10 appearances, breaking his longest drought for Madrid by flicking in a terrific first-time finish from a Theo Hernandez cross in the 89th minute, ensured Zidane's men take a narrow advantage into Wednesday's second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.
After a poor spell of form - taking five points from five LaLiga games since the start of December - Madrid sit 19 points behind leaders Barcelona, prompting speculation double Champions League-winning coach Zidane could leave the club at the end of the season.
Zidane, though, is aiming to be positive after a battling Butarque performance put Madrid in control of the quarter-final tie, the Frenchman seeking a first Copa crown as either a player or a coach.
"The result is very good for us, keeping a clean sheet and scoring an away goal," Zidane told reporters. "We were committed, defended well, had a lot of balance in our play.
"We found it difficult to play with more adventure. But that is normal, as many of these players do not play often. And the second half was much better.
"We have to get back to winning games, keeping clean sheets. Today was a step that way. We cannot say we played a great game, but we got an important result in the tie. That is positive.
"We hope this is a turning point. We wanted to win today, at a difficult place to play. We are happy with the result."
@marcoasensio10's super late volley secured us the win in the first leg of our Copa del Rey quarter-final tie against @CDLeganes! Here are some of the best photos from this evening's encounter.#RMCopa | #HalaMadrid pic.twitter.com/ThOo3aNRNP— Real Madrid C.F.🇬🇧 (@realmadriden) January 18, 2018
Victory came at a cost for Madrid - who are already without captain Sergio Ramos - as centre-back Jesus Vallejo was substituted with a suspected torn hamstring, while Dani Ceballos also limped off.
"Ceballos was hurt - I think just a heavy blow," Zidane said. "He could not continue as he wanted, that is why he was taken off.
"We do not know how bad [Vallejo's injury] is, we will have to see exactly what he has, but he has been injured."
Of Asensio's match-winning impact, Zidane said: "He has done well but he can improve, like everyone else. But he has scored the winning goal."