Zinedine Zidane has admitted his disappointment, after Real Madrid saw a 40-match unbeaten run ended with a 2-1 defeat at Sevilla on Sunday night (15 January). Yet, the French boss believes the final result was too "harsh" for Los Blancos after Jorge Sampaoli's side scored the two goals in the final five minutes to cancel Cristiano Ronaldo's opener.
Real Madrid look on course to extend their impressive good streak after Ronaldo converted a penalty in the 67th minute of the game to put his side ahead. However, Sergio Ramos's own goal levelled the score with five minutes remaining before former Manchester City forward Stevan Jovetic gave Sevilla the three points with a dramatic stoppage-time winner.
"We came five minutes away from winning. The two teams put in a great performance and we just needed to hold on for those five minutes. It's tough to take after the performance that we put in. The defeat is a bit harsh on us, but that's the way things go in football and we must continue to perform as we have been up until now. We knew that the run would have to come to an end at some point," Zidane explained after the game.
"Their first goal came from a free-kick and the second one came after we lost the ball, but these things happen. We played well for 85 minutes and I'm very proud of my players and what we have achieved during the 40-game unbeaten run. We now have to think about the next game and get up for that one". "It's very difficult now to lift the players after a defeat like that but it wasn't due to lack of concentration. There are moments within the game and these things can happen over the 90 minutes. It's what it is and we'll look at the things we can improve on. I'm a bit disappointed with the two goals".
Zidane surprised all from the begging after deploying a new 3-5-2 formation with three centre-backs and only Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in the attack. Some questioned his decision following the defeat but the Real Madrid boss said that the changed was needed to try to shock Sevilla as it was the third game with the Andalucian side in only two weeks – following their Copa del Rey double tie.
"I was pleased with our performance and the character we showed. Facing the same team three times in quick succession means that we had to change the system, but I'm happy with how the players performed," Zidane said.
Nevertheless, the Real Madrid boss pointed out that Los Blancos defeat came against a great rival as tipped Sampaoli's side to fight for the La Liga title until the end of the season. Yet, the Andaluncian side currently sit second in the La Liga table, one point over Barcelona and two behind Los Blancos who still have one game in hand.
"I've always said they can fight for the league. I said in the build-up that today was first against second and we've seen a great game of football. Sevilla are in the hunt for LaLiga. They play some good football, they fight hard and show intensity in everything they do, you've seen that today," Zidane stated.