Zinedine Zidane praised Real Madrid’s character after they came from behind to beat LaLiga basement boys Huesca 2-1.
While the three points might help ease some of the pressure on Zidane, edging second-placed Madrid three points clear of rivals Barcelona but still seven behind neighbours Atletico having played two games more, this was not a performance to silence the critics.
Madrid struggled to make their dominance of possession pay and allowed Huesca a series of chances, grateful that Rafa Mir struck the crossbar with a great chance shortly after Javi Galan had fired them ahead three minutes into the second half.
That let-off allowed Madrid to hit back with a brace from Raphael Varane, taking on the role of saviour from the injured Sergio Ramos as he was twice on target on the rebound following set-pieces – hitting the winner in the 84th minute.
“The players believed until the end,” Zidane said. “They knew they had to suffer. We have suffered and we have achieved a good victory.
“We know the difficulties we are having, but we have to regain our joy, our football, and this comes little by little.”
Madrid certainly did not look like themselves in the early going as Huesca had three chances in the opening five minutes before Zidane’s side gradually began to take control of possession.
Huesca were on the front foot again at the start of the second half and this time made it pay, but once Mir failed to make it 2-0, Varane levelled in the 55th minute and from then only one winner appeared likely.
“At the beginning of the game we were not comfortable,” Zidane added. “But after 20 minutes we came into it more.
“The important thing is the three points. We have to play well again and find our joy, but you have to be patient.
“Today we have to be very happy with what we did.”
Madrid came into the match on the back of a home defeat to Levante, increasing the noise around Zidane as their LaLiga title defence continues to falter.
But Zidane insisted this performance showed his side were not ready to throw in the towel.
“We have suffered and achieved a good victory,” he said. “This team is going to fight. We will never give up.
“In times of difficulty we go the other way. We know we have to show our face and fight until the end. We are second and we want more.”