Zidane critical of Real Madrid’s first-half display as they hit back for point

Two goals from Emmanuel Dennis had put Club Brugge in control.

By Press Association Published: 1 October 2019 - 10.03pm

Zinedine Zidane was contemptuous of Real Madrid’s first-half performance after they were forced to come from two goals down to avoid an ignominious Champions League defeat against Club Brugge.

Emmanuel Dennis’ peculiar brace gave the Belgian side a 2-0 half-time lead against the 13-time European champions, who opened their Pool A account by being brushed aside 3-0 by Paris St Germain a fortnight ago.

Sergio Ramos halved the deficit before the hour before Brugge captain Ruud Vormer was sent off for a second bookable offence and, from the resulting free-kick, Casemiro scored five minutes from time to rescue a 2-2 draw.

Zidane said in his press conference afterwards: “The truth is that we produced a poor first-half display, we made a really bad start in the first five minutes and they made life difficult for us straight away.

“We weren’t in control of any aspect of the game and the second half was a different story and we changed the complexion of the game.

“Fortunately we reacted well and we can take that as a positive. It’s a game of two halves, and at half-time I said to the players: if we go on like this we will lose the game, but we have 45 minutes to change that.

“What I take away with me is the reaction from the players because they are the ones who changed the game. That’s what I take away with me, that and the point.”

Nigerian forward Dennis made a hash of the opener after nine minutes, failing to control the ball before it bounced off his leg and trickled into the net, with the goal awarded after initially being chalked off for offside.

Dennis then broke free in the 39th minute after dispossessing Luka Modric and regained his composure after threatening to stumble to lift the ball over Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Zidane said: “The two goals that they scored were a joke, that’s all I can say on that.

“What happened in the first half can happen to you. We looked to take the three points from start to finish and that was impossible in the first half. We won the second half 2-0 and we end up taking a point.

“I’m not worried. We know we have to make and finish chances because in the first 10 minutes, if we had been a little more clinical, we could have had the opening goal.

“We need to do that at home, go to kill the game from minute one and push our rivals. I don’t want to speak ill of a rival, but if we pressed like we did in the second half, they would have had no chance.”

A stomach ailment led to Courtois being substituted at half-time while defender Nacho’s knee injury led to his withdrawal before the start of the second half.

“Courtois is in a bad way and could not continue for the second half,” added Zidane, who revealed James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale were not considered after picking up knocks earlier this week.

“Nacho got injured too. Courtois was not injured quite as badly, we’ll have to wait and see with the others.”