Football

Zidane delighted with revved-up Real

Galacticos boosted by big win ahead of Champs League meeting with Neymar and Co.

Real Madrid's 5-2 win over Real Sociedad yesterday morning (Singapore time) has boosted confidence in the Spanish capital ahead of their Champions League last-16 showdown with Paris Saint-Germain on Thursday morning (Singapore time).

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged his first hat-trick this season after Lucas Vazquez had opened the scoring inside 49 seconds at the Santiago Bernabeu as the visitors were blown away.

Toni Kroos also found the net, with Real 4-0 up by the interval.

The victory might not trouble La Liga leaders Barcelona, but it strengthens Real's place in the top four and confirms that Zinedine Zidane's side are on an upward trajectory ahead of their season-defining clash with PSG.

"It makes things easier for you when you score an early goal. We showed lots of desire and we can be satisfied. It was good preparation for Wednesday," said Zidane.

It was a result that went down well with the Madrid media, with sports daily AS proclaiming on their front cover yesterday that Ronaldo had sent a "message to PSG".

The newspaper added: "The best Madrid of the season appears on the eve of the Champions League clash."

Real have won three and drawn one of their last four league outings, scoring 18 goals in the process.

Ronaldo, meanwhile, has 11 La Liga goals for the season, with seven coming in those last four matches.

"He always has that mindset, he lives for that, for scoring goals," said Zidane of Ronaldo, who turned 33 last week.

"He could have scored one or two more, and it augurs well for Wednesday."

However, the undoubted downside for Real was the way which they switched off defensively in the second half, with the Basque visitors hitting the post and then pulling goals back through Jon Bautista and Asier Illarramendi.

The defending European champions have kept just one clean sheet in their last nine outings, and they must shore up their backline if they are to keep a clean sheet against the formidable PSG attack of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe.

"We know Wednesday's game is a knockout tie and we don't want to concede a goal at home," added Zidane, who saw Vazquez and Marco Asensio impress after being handed starts in place of Gareth Bale and Casemiro.

"There were things in the second half that were more complicated, but I'm sticking with the positives, with the five goals and our start to the match."

Skipper Sergio Ramos indicated that such defensive lapses will not be repeated when it comes to what will be a huge Champions League night.

He said: "Wednesday's game was on our minds in the second half. Our season will be on the line against PSG, so we started to go easy. Our objective is to go all out on Wednesday." - AFP

OTHER RESULTS

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  • Leganes 0 Eibar 1
  • Malaga 0 Atletico Madrid 1
  • Villarreal 1 Alaves 2
Football