First goal was key to Real Madrid’s win – Zinedine Zidane

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Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane felt his much-changed side’s 3-0 win at Las Palmas was never in doubt once Gareth Bale opened the scoring.

Zidane had opted to leave in-form forward Cristiano Ronaldo behind for the trip to Gran Canaria, with one eye on next week’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Juventus in Turin.

Real Madrid, though, never looked in any real danger of not getting the job done.

Bale fired Los Blancos in front after 26 minutes before Karim Benzema, on his 400th appearance, converted a penalty and the Wales forward added another spot-kick early in the second half.

The win moves Real Madrid to within a point of second-placed Atletico Madrid, who host relegation-threatened Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday.

“There’s no such thing as a straightforward game, but it got easier for us after the first goal,” Zidane said at a press conference.

“Las Palmas need to pick up points, and once we’d got the first, it was a bit less complicated.

“The second half was very end-to-end, we created a lot of chances that we didn’t score.

“It was a good game for us, we’ve picked up three points and a lot of the guys who don’t get so many minutes played very well.”

Zidane added, as quoted on the club’s official website: “I’m pleased with the players because after the international break we only had two days to get ready for this game.”

There was some concern for Real Madrid, though, after defender Nacho went off with a suspected calf injury midway through the first half.

“I took Nacho off as a precaution. He’s not feeling good, he’s got some discomfort. I hope it’s nothing serious but we’ll send him for a scan tomorrow and see,” Zidane said.

There was also no place in the squad for midfielder Isco, who missed out with a back problem having netted a hat-trick for Spain against Argentina.

Zidane confirmed: “He was carrying a knock and he stayed in Madrid.”

Bale took his tally to the season for 11, having become Wales’ record international goalscorer while away at the China Cup.

Zidane said: “I’m pleased with his performance. You’ll have to wait and see if he plays on Tuesday.”

Las Palmas came into Saturday’s match some seven points adrift of safety.

But coach Paco Jemez is not about to throw in the towel as they prepare for next week’s crunch trip to fellow strugglers Levante.

“We started well, creating chances and we tried to compete as best as possible,” he said at a press conference.

“If we lose against Levante, while not mathematically (over), but because of the difference in points, our position will be complicated.

“The next game is, therefore, very important and momentous.”

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