Football

Zidane: Show more love towards Real Madrid

Real manager asks fans for support after Benzema and Ronaldo are booed in his side's win over Malaga

Zinedine Zidane called for fans to show more affection towards his Real Madrid players after they claimed a 2-1 win over Malaga yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The European champions' 40-game unbeaten run came to a crashing halt with back-to-back defeats by Sevilla and Celta Vigo in the past week but, after a nervy start, skipper Sergio Ramos ensured they opened up a four-point gap at the top of the La Liga table.

The Spanish international opened the scoring with a towering header from a Toni Kroos corner on 35 minutes.

Ramos soon took his career tally to 50 La Liga goals by bundling home another Kroos delivery, despite standing in an offside position.

Juanpi got Malaga back into the game just after the hour and could even have snatched a point, but for a fine save from Keylor Navas to deny Chory Castro soon after.

However, Zidane was concerned with the lack of support for his players, which resulted in an edgy performance at the Bernabeu as boos rang out at times for Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Our fans are always very demanding, but sometimes the players and coaches need more affection," he said.

"When we have difficulties, we need the fans to be calm and support the team."

Ronaldo suffered a frustrating day in front of goal, hitting a post late on after seeing a shot cleared off the line, but Zidane brushed off any concerns over his form.

"Karim and Cristiano might not have scored in recent games, but I'm not worried," he said.

"It's not the form of the attackers which worries me at the moment, it's the injuries."

FITNESS PROBLEMS

Marcelo was forced off the pitch in the first half, forcing Zidane into fielding Lucas Vazquez as an emergency fullback, just four days before Real attempt to overturn a 2-1 Copa del Rey quarter-final first-leg deficit at Celta Vigo.

Zidane revealed Marcelo was not the only fitness problem, saying: "Danilo had a fitness issue and he couldn't play.

"(Fabio) Coentrao has a problem too and Real Madrid Castilla players are not available this weekend, else I would have thrown in one of the youngsters.

"Lucas did perfect, but I don't like playing him there. He's not a fullback, but he did a great job despite being out of position."

Luka Modric also limped off injured.

Vazquez, who completed the full 90 minutes for the first time since El Clasico in December, admitted the three points came at an important time for the hosts.

"It is important to top the table at this point but, at the same time, it is meaningless if we do not win the trophy in the end," he said.

"We must remain focused in order to fulfil our aspiration.

"We collected three very valuable points that will give us a confidence boost to approach next Wednesday's Copa del Rey (against Celta) duel." - WIRE SERVICES

la ligaREAL MADRIDZinedine Zidane