Zinedine Zidane has acclaimed Real Madrid's win at Roma in the Champions League round of 16 first leg as the best away performance of his reign. Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Jese gave the Spanish giants a 2-0 win at the Stadio Olimpico and put them firmly on course for a sixth successive quarter-final appearance in Europe's elite club competition.
Ronaldo raced on to a long pass before firing a deflected strike into the top corner early on in the second half, silencing his critics with his first away goal since November. Then as Roma pushed desperately for an equaliser, substitute Jese capitalised in the 86th minute to notch his first ever Champions League goal.
The win was a major fillip for Real, with the Champions League increasingly seen as the club's best shot at winning a major title this season. The Madrid giants are seven points behind league leaders Barcelona in La Liga and are out of the Copa del Rey after they were adjudged to have fielded an ineligible player in the competition in December.
"We're happy with the performance and the result. We knew it was going to be a tough game but we fought to the end and we got a good result," Zidane, who was making his managerial debut in the Champions League, told Uefa's official website.
"We played a lot better than we have done in other away matches. It's important to score and keep a clean sheet in the Champions League and we did both."
The Frenchman added: "Cristiano was great but then again, so was everyone. Even those who did not play were important for team morale. I'm happy with Jese's goal — it helped the side and he got rewarded for his efforts."
Roma boss Luciano Spalletti lamented the fact that his players could not finish off the chances they created to give them something to build on in the return leg in Spain. "We created the right openings but couldn't score. In contrast, Madrid were clinical," he said.
"I'm happy with our application but sorry about the result — a game like this could have given us great momentum for the future. It's even more disappointing considering we probably had more chances than them."