In a LaLiga title race that took a surprising turn thanks to Karim Benzema’s late equalizer against Atletico Madrid, Zinedine Zidane proclaimed Real Madrid “alive.”
Moments after Atletico Madrid threatened to go 2-0 up, Benzema powered the ball past Jan Oblak for a 1-1 draw that holds Madrid’s title defense hopes alive.
They are not as close as they would like to be; five points behind Atletico despite having played one more game, they have a mountain to climb.
However, after Luis Suarez’s early strike appeared to have decided the derby, Benzema’s 88th-minute intervention provided a welcome reprieve for the Wanda Metropolitano tourists.
“We had chances at the end, so it’s well earned. We should have scored more goals, but the good news is that we had a different second half and were able to turn the game around “During a post-game press conference, Zidane said.
“It’s a point; we’re still alive. We will continue to fight. It is a correct result; we believed it could be recovered until the very end.”
When a corner from Toni Kroos zipped across the six-yard box and hit Felipe on the arm late in the first half, Madrid felt they should have had a penalty, but referee Alejandro Hernandez Hernandez denied the assertion, even after seeing the incident on a touchline screen.
If Benzema had not equalized, Zidane may have had a different opinion, but the Madrid coach gave a stoic post-game assessment.
“He has a tough career. It is he who makes the decision and bears the burden. We have to honor the referee,” Zidane said. “The players said it was a hand, so he looked it over and decided not to blow.”
Atletico Madrid leads Barcelona by three points, but they were defeated in this game, and their once-dominant lead has been whittled away in recent weeks.
“We know there’s a lot left. Everything is subject to change; we are doing a good job, but we can still do better” said Zidane.