Zinedine Zidane 'disappointed' as Real Madrid drop points at home to Celta Vigo
Madrid's lead at the top of La Liga down to one point after Santi Mina grabs late equaliser at Bernabeu
Zinedine Zidane said he was calm but "disappointed" after Real Madrid's winning streak was ended by a late Celta Vigo equaliser Sunday as their lead at the top of La Liga was cut to one point.
Barcelona beat third place Getafe on Saturday to open a 10-point gap on the chasing pack. Sevilla could have climbed to third on Sunday but were held 2-2 at home by basement side Espanyol.
"There's nothing to explain, it's just the way things are, it's football," he said. "I'm not worried about it, but I'm disappointed, as always when you drop two points at home," said a philosophical Zidane.
Real had won five successive league games to power past bitter rivals Barca at the top of the standings. Sunday saw the return of star forward Eden Hazard for the first time in almost three months with the Belgian completing an all-star attacking troika alongside Karim Benzema and the recalled Gareth Bale.
Despite their abundance of attacking talent, it was struggling Celta who took the lead when Fedor Smolov was sent clear to finish low past Thibaut Courtois.
"There were mistakes, especially for the first goal," said Zidane. "We were not well positioned, it happens, and it'll happen to us again."
The rest of the half belonged to Real but despite some intricate and imaginative attacking interchanges between the front three, a combination of good defending and bad finishing kept the hosts scoreless for the rest of the first half.
They began the second half in much the same vein and saw a Sergio Ramos effort ruled out for offside.
Zidane's side didn't have to wait too much longer to find parity. A low Marcelo cross from the left fell handsomely at the feet of Toni Kroos via a deflection and the German midfielder drilled in a shot that kept up a remarkable scoring record against Celta that now stretches to six consecutive seasons.
Hazard was upended by in the Celta area by goalkeeper Ruben Blanco on 65 minutes and Real captain Ramos slammed home the resulting spot kick into the bottom corner.
"We're glad he's back," Zidane said of Hazard, who was replaced in the 73rd minute after his first outing since mid-November.
"We know what he can do for us. He didn't go further than we planned after three months out," Zidane said. "He was involved in a lot of attacking action."
Celta, who had only moved out of the relegation places before the weekend, responded by rediscovering their attacking nerve.
With four minutes left, a sharp pass from Denis Suarez, who had come on in the 71st minute, caught the Real back four rigid on the edge of their own area. Santi Mina, who had been on for just two minutes, raced onto the ball and drilled a shot past Courtois.
"An extraordinary pass," Zidane said of Suarez's ball.
Real play Levante in the league next Sunday before entertaining Manchester City in the Champions League.
"Now we have to prepare for our next game, because after that it's going to get harder and harder."
Real Madrid also used the match Sunday to send a message to China.
The players came on before the match wearing T-shirts with a message in Chinese saying: "China, come on!"
During the game the advertising hoardings flashed up the English message "Wuhan! Come on! We support you!"
"Real Madrid wishes to express its full support for all of the people affected by the coronavirus," the club tweeted in English.
Updated: February 17, 2020 08:36 AM