Real Madid coach Zinedine Zidane declared himself a “happy” man after seeing his side secure a 2-0 Champions League win at Roma.
Second half goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Jese left the Spaniards in total control of the round-of-16 clash, although Zidane, who was taking charge of his first Champions League game, has challenged his players to keep improving.
“We’re happy with the game and the result,” Zidane told UEFA.com. “We knew it was going to be a tough game but we fought to the end and were able to get a good result. In the first half they pressured us and that’s normal in a difficult Champions League tie.
“Cristiano [Ronaldo] was great but then again so was everyone. Even those who did not play were important for team morale. I’m happy with Jesé’s goal, because it helped the side and he deserved it for his efforts.
“The most important thing are the players. I’m happy to be with them, this is new for me. I’m happy and I’ll try to ensure the side keeps on improving.”
It took Madrid almost an hour to break down a resilient Roma, with the contest not really settled until four minutes from time by Jese’s fine individual strike.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game against an opponent who defend well and put you under pressure up to, but the side were really good,” said Jese.
“You need to remember Roma are difficult to play against because they’re very compact at the back. I know it’s tough to get a game in this side because everyone is such a good player.
“I’m happy to have the manager’s backing, he is giving us all confidence. He helped me a lot in my first season in the first team and he’s a top coach.”
Roma coach Luciano Spalletti, however, believed his side were hard done to by the result, a view clearly shared by the Stadio Olimpico crowd who cheered off their team at full time.
“We are happy for the fans’ applause,” said Spalletti. “They realised that the players gave their all, and that we haven’t been lucky today. We created the right movements but did not score.
“You can’t make a little mistake against them, while we couldn’t take advantage of our chances. When we concede a goal we become fearful, and that’s why we conceded the second goal tonight.
“We lose our balance sometimes, but I am happy with our overall performance. We played a great second half.”