Zinedine Zidane critical of Real Madrid's first-half performance against Villarreal
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 21/09/16 11:03pm
Zinedine Zidane lamented a hesitant first-half display from Real Madrid as they missed out on a piece of La Liga history by dropping points at home to Villarreal.
Zidane's side rarely got out of second gear in the first 45 minutes at the Estadio Bernabeu, with all the pre-match talk having been about Real's chance to claim a league record 17th straight win, a run which stretched back to March 2.
However, they went down the tunnel at half-time a goal down as Sergio Ramos blocked a Manu Trigueros shot with his hand and Bruno Soriano coolly dispatched the penalty.
Ramos atoned for conceding a spot-kick by towering above the Villarreal defence to head home a James Rodriguez corner in the 48th minute, and despite significantly raising their game they were unable to claim an historic winner.
Zidane told Spanish daily Marca: "I'll take the second half. That's the attitude we need to have, but from the start. We started pretty poorly. We need to try and change that, because we were great in the second half.
"At the end of the day we've dropped two points at home, but we're not going to change the way we want to do things. In the second half we were far superior, but you can't always win it in the last minute."
Zidane had the full 'BBC' attacking line-up in harness but it seemed that none of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema or Cristiano Ronaldo were quite at 100 per cent fitness, with Bale and Ronaldo having missed the win over Espanyol last Sunday.
But the Frenchman was not concerned with the condition of his squad.
"Physically we're great, in the second half we put in a big shift, and we can go home with our heads held high," he said.
"We couldn't do it today, we'll rest now and look to the next game."
Villarreal remain unbeaten in La Liga after bowing out of the Champions League qualifiers and coach Fran Escriba was encouraged by what he saw in the capital.
"Obviously it's a good point, we're on the right track and we have to play well in the next match," he told his club's official Twitter feed.
Escriba was unhappy at the way Ramos had been able to outjump his defenders to equalise, saying: "We'll keep working on our aerial game as we know it's not our strength, but we'll keep training it."
He defended the tactics his team had used, with Nicola Sansone the lone forward as his team soaked up pressure in a bid to hit Real on the break.
He said: "I want the team to have options, there'll be matches when the team's more attacking and we'll play with two strikers."