February 19, 2018 / 4:13 AM / 4 months ago

Soccer: Asensio, Vazquez earn Zidane plaudits for 'dirty work' against Betis

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane praised wingers Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio for their defensive work as well as their attacking exploits after his side beat Real Betis 5-3 in La Liga on Sunday.

Soccer Football - Champions League Round of 16 First Leg - Real Madrid vs Paris St Germain - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - February 14, 2018 Real Madrid’s Marcelo celebrates scoring their third goal with coach Zinedine Zidane REUTERS/Paul Hanna

Both were left out of the starting line-up in the Champions League last-16 first leg against Paris St Germain but had a big impact from the bench, with Asensio providing the spark for Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo’s goals in the 3-1 win.

Asensio got Real off to an ideal start against Betis by heading in on the rebound and then gave his side the lead again in the second half, after Betis had gone in front before halftime and captain Sergio Ramos had levelled for Real.

“They always deserve to play more because when it’s their turn to do the dirty work they do it with character,” Zidane told reporters.

“But it’s not just the dirty work, it’s everything they do, from playing up and down the wing, to opening up the pitch, to defending. They are playing very well at the moment.”

Asensio, who joined from Mallorca in 2014 for 3.5 million euros, had a barnstorming start to the season but faded out of contention when Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema returned from suspension and injury problems.

Sunday’s game was only his 11th start in the league this season and after his brace took him to six goals for the campaign, the Spain international said he needed to play more regularly to show his potential.

“I think I’m having a good season but when you don’t participate as much you can’t prove yourself in certain ways,” Asensio said.

“In the end you have to take advantage of the minutes you get on the pitch and now things are going better. I hope to continue playing this way.

“The coach will have his reasons for playing me less but I just need to keep working and be consistent, now we can see the results.”

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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