BARCELONA (Reuters) - Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane paid tribute to his players’ spirit after they battled back to beat Deportivo La Coruna 3-2 on Saturday and set a club record 35 games unbeaten in all competitions.
Zidane had opted to rest top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as Karim Benzema and Luka Modric, and his side were in danger of losing their long unbeaten run after two defensive slips in as many minutes allowed former Real striker Joselu to put Deportivo ahead in the second half.
With their six-point lead over Barcelona at the top of the table at risk at being halved, Real again demonstrated a refusal to admit defeat that has underpinned Zidane’s first full season in charge.
Substitute Mariano Diaz scored his first league goal for the club to pull them level before Sergio Ramos sealed victory in the 93rd minute.
”We played a brilliant game and I‘m so happy for the players,“ said Zidane. ”We suffered a lot but they believed until the end. We made a few errors but that can always happen. We believed and we did it.
”The players work hard and give so much and they are always convinced things will go their way in the end. When you are behind it’s not easy but we kept calm until the end and the substitutes contributed a lot too.
“We don’t think we’re invincible and we’ll lose at some point. But the players know that thinking positively can help us. These 35 games give us the strength to keep looking forward.”
Zidane also paid tribute to Ramos, who followed his 90th minute leveller against Barcelona last week by powering in the winner deep in stoppage time.
“You can try and mark him but he’s so clever and he has great movement and knows where the ball is going to drop,” Zidane said.
“You can work on it and try to stop him but it’s very difficult. Deportivo have great defenders but there was still nothing they could do.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford