Zinedine Zidane lauded Real Madrid for displaying their Champions League pedigree as the holders scored twice late on to claim a first-leg lead against Paris St Germain.
PSG had gone ahead in their round-of-16 tie through Adrien Rabiot’s strike and even though Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty levelled matters before the break, the Ligue 1 leaders arguably shaded the contest until the final seven minutes.
That was when Ronaldo fortuitously put Real ahead as a Marco Asensio cross was diverted on to his knee, with Marcelo then adding a third for the hosts three minutes later to give Zidane’s men a 3-1 victory.
In what has been a comparatively difficult season for Zidane, Ronaldo and Real, the reigning champions possessed the necessary nous and big-game experience to secure the victory.
“This club has 12 European Cups and that means a lot,” Zidane said in his post-match press conference.
“This is such a prominent competition and we want to prove time and time again that this club values this.
“We showed it for the full 90 minutes. We coped well, both with and without the ball. We defended well, with aggression and rhythm.
“The Champions League really has a place in this club’s heart. We played 90 stunning minutes against a top rival. That’s all that we’re concerned with.
“We have to turn our attentions now to the return leg, that will be entirely different.”
It was a particularly crushing defeat for PSG given they had looked the more likely side to claim victory before Zidane introduced Asensio from the bench late on.
Real defender Sergio Ramos believes the manner of his team’s success in coming from behind is crucial ahead of the return fixture in Paris.
“Vital win,” he told realmadrid.com.
“This was one of the Champions League (wins) which I’ll remember throughout my career and the way we won is important for the return leg.
“We must continue on in this way and defend our Champions League title. We did brilliantly.
“This is no time to dwell on things and this team, despite conceding a goal, looked for that win with real integrity against a focused side.
“Despite what we all say, Real Madrid can never be written off.”
PSG had hoped the major summer acquisitions of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe could help them to a first Champions League title having been eliminated in stunning fashion by Barcelona last year.
However, they are still finding it difficult to translate their domestic dominance on to the continental stage and goalscorer Rabiot pulled no punches in his assessment.
“It’s annoying because I think we did the right things,” he said in his interview with beIN Sports.
“The problem is that it’s easy to put eight past Dijon. It’s in these matches that you have to be decisive.”