Zinedine Zidane hailed the work of Sergio Ramos as the captain delivered a stoppage-time equaliser that allowed Real Madrid to go on and beat Sevilla 3-2 in the UEFA Super Cup on Tuesday.
Ramos had allowed Sevilla to take the lead in the second half when he tripped up Vitolo in the box for a penalty, but he redeemed himself with a 93rd-minute header.
Zidane, who was full of praise for the opposition after the hard-fought game, said he has complete trust in Ramos’ ability.
You have to congratulate Sevilla on their great performance,” Zidane said. “Sometimes to play a great game it takes two sides and today we saw just that. In the end we won, but Sevilla were very good.
“Sergio Ramos is our captain, an important player and he’s always there to earn us the trophy. There were no special instructions for him.
“With a player like Sergio, he’s always been the difference. We’ve seen it before. He’s grown as a player, too. In this final he was there just where he needed to be.”
Ramos said the late win — secured by Dani Carvajal’s 119th-minute goal — was no less than Madrid deserved for their efforts.
“It’s incredible,” he said. “When you’re looking to do something and you dream of it, you have to carry on fighting until the last second; this has its rewards.
“The collective work is what you have to highlight. To win a trophy is always incredible. The game had its different phases and we have to continue working hard to make sure we’re in form going into the season.”
Real were playing without Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, but Zidane said he wasn’t worried about the team’s depth without them.
“We have a good squad,” the manager said. “We have players who also weren’t here today; four or five players in fact. It’s a good squad. We’ve got young and experienced players. The group is always the most important; it’s always been that way.”
New Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli said he was pleased with his sides performance despite the final result.
I feel proud. The team showed bravery to play the way they did against the European champions,” he said. “It was a proud moment.
“In the first 20 minutes, Madrid pressed very intensely, but we controlled things better after that. We then had a few chances to equalise.
“Thanks to our possession game we began to dominate Madrid, and then we created a lot of chances in the second half.”
The defeat was the third in as many years for the Europa League champions, and midfielder Vitolo said he throught they let a win slip away.
“It’s happened to us in previous Super Cups,” he said. “We have it there for the taking and then due to minor details we miss out on a trophy we could have won.”