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An Important Champions League Win

An Important Champions League Win

Real Madrid usually, especially when this is at the Santiago Bernabeu, get the Champions League underway with a win and this is exactly what happened against Apoel Nicosia on Wednesday.

Having been held to two draws at the Bernabeu in La Liga so far; Real collected a vital three points in the Champions League opener against Nicosia to sit above Tottenham in Group H on goal difference - for what it's worth at this stage.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who has one game to go on his domestic suspension, was on the scoresheet early on before securing the points with a penalty shortly after the half time interval.

An acrobatic Sergio Ramos goal on the hour made certain.

Zinedine Zidane knows the importance of this win but the boss, when speaking in his post-match conference, quoted by realmadrid.com, wasn't pleased with the opening 45 minutes.

'It was important for us to get the points. We started the competition eagerly. We can't be very happy with the first half, but the second was much better. We got a good result, it was important to start well in this competition and we have done just that,' said Zidane.

Adding: 'We scored three goals and we didn't concede any. Everyone talks about winning the third consecutive Champions League, but you have to play and fight hard in every game. Today we didn't get in to it very well, especially the rhythm of the game. That's where we always make the difference, with rhythm and with the ball. We can't be happy with the first half with the ball. In the second, we injected pace in to it and we got a very good result.'

Ronaldo didn't take long to make his mark on Wednesday, again showing his importance to Real, which was again voiced by Zidane, who is hopeful the Portuguese can show this continued form once his suspension has been served.

Zidane also confirmed Karim Benzema will sit out this weekend but he's confident others will step up to the plate in the forward pairs' absence.

He said: 'He's a key player for us, he's always there and always scores. I hope it stays that way. We're not going to have him on Sunday and I hope it's the last game of the season that we're without him. On Sunday we've not got Cristiano nor Karim, but we will have other players and we will do well.'

There was also praise for Gareth Bale, who will come up against former club Spurs soon enough, as the Welsh international battles to overcome a difficult start to the campaign.

Zidane was pleased with Bale and his versatility throughout the game, before he was taken off in the closing stages, and believes improvement is continually being seen following a four month absence.

'I don't think people come to boo or jeer him, that wasn't the case tonight. He can play in many positions and obviously, he is good on the left. He started off playing there but further back in defence. He can play anywhere up front. He started alongside Cristiano tonight and did well. I am happy with our performance in general, especially that second half,' said Zidane.

Zizou continued: 'We're seeing more of him each day and he is becoming a better player. After a four-month injury, he needs the same time to recover. He went through all of the preseason without injures and I think we'll see Gareth getting better gradually. I'm happy with how he did, he gave that first assist.'

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Writer:Raul Madrid
Date:Thursday September 14 2017
Time: 11:00AM

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