Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane had mixed feelings after Celta Vigo knocked his side out of the Copa del Rey with a 4-3 aggregate victory in the quarter-finals. The French boss praised his side's efforts after the 2-2 draw at Balaidos on Wednesday night (25 January) despite a failure to overturn the 2-1 defeat in the reverse fixture at the Santiago Bernabeu last week.
Lucas Vazquez gave some hope to Los Blancos after scoring in the 89th minute of the game. However, Real Madrid were unable to net a decisive third goal to reach the semi-finals ending the possibility of winning the treble this season.
Zidane, however, congratulated his players as they refused to give up until the very end - despite an own goal by Danilo in the first-half complicating matters.
"We produced a very good 35 minutes in the first-half, and after they went ahead we didn't give up and put in a great performance right until the end. Today I can only but congratulate them all because we put in a great display. When you perform poorly and don't deserve anything you have to look at yourselves, but today there's no blame to be laid. We produced a disciplined performance, full of character and it was a shame that we didn't manage to achieve what we wanted," the Real Madrid boss said in the press conference after the game.
"The only thing left to do is rest up and turn our attentions to what lies ahead. We are going to keep on with this approach and we are still in two other competitions. We don't need to go over this anymore. We took our eye off the first game and in this one we weren't good enough. I am happy with what we were able to do though".
Los Blancos had looked in contention for the Copa del Rey, La Liga and the Champions League this season after registering a 40-match unbeaten run in a flying 2016. However, they have only won one game in the last four since Sevilla brought that winning streak to an end on 16 January.
But Zidane has backed his side to bounce back despite elimination from the Copa del Rey as the club tries to win two other competitions; they are still leading the Spanish La Liga table and will face Napoli in the Champions League last-16.
"We played really well and that's all there is to it. We're out of the competition and I'm disappointed given how they all performed and after having played like that and because as we got close to the end of the game it was still possible, but it wasn't meant to be and we've now got to rest up and focus on challenging in the remaining competitions," he said.
Karim Benzema was especially singled out by the Real Madrid fans amid suggestions Alvaro Morata should have started ahead of him at Balaidos. However, Zidane defended his decision while insisting that he is not concerned about his team's lack of goals in recent games.
"Benzema and Morata are fine. I'm just focussing on the team and that's what we have to do now. Nobody likes to lose a tie. We're going to continue and if we play like this, with character and spirit, we'll be there and fighting right until the end in the two remaining competitions," he said. "I'm not worried about (the lack of clinical touch) that in the slightest. We had chances that we didn't take, but we are going to change things. If we keep working, we will achieve big things.
"I don't think we were disorganised. It is true that we didn't score in open play. Both goals came from set pieces. Tactically we played brilliantly and put our opponents under pressure. My feeling is that we knew what we were doing. We took the right approach all the way up to the end".