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Zidane hails ‘phenomenal’ Real despite second-half scare

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane described his side’s first-half display in their 3-2 win against Levante as “phenomenal”.

Zidane’s side stormed into a 3-0 lead at half-time after two more goals from Karim Benzema and Casemiro’s effort.

But Real ran out of steam in the second period and were left hanging on after Levante hit back through Borja Mayoral and Gonzalo Melero.

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“We’ve taken all three points after a phenomenal first-half performance, full of goals, good football and desire,” Zidane told a post-match press conference.

“In the second half we had chances to score goals but we just didn’t quite have it physically.

“I’m not looking for excuses, but it’s true that we had many players out and others who haven’t had much rest.”

Eden Hazard made his long-awaited debut off the bench as a second-half replacement for Casemiro and Zidane was impressed.

“He’s very direct, he’s superb with the ball at his feet and all he needs is a few more training sessions under his belt,” Zidane added.

“Hazard will bring us an awful lot. He’s not ready to start games yet because he’s only completed four sessions.”

Benzema scored his third and fourth LaLiga goals of the season before he was replaced by Luka Jovic in the closing stages.

“All I can say is, I hope he keeps this up,” Zidane added. “It’s important for us to have Karim playing like this. We’re pleased, we noticed the fans’ ovation.”

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Levante boss Paco Lopez was delighted with the way his side responded to being 3-0 down at the interval.

“I am satisfied with the effort, the work, never lowering (our levels),” he told a post-match press conference.

“In terms of the game, there were moments when you are happier than others. But above all, we gave everything and especially after such an adverse scoreline at the break.”

Levante pressed for an equaliser in the closing stages and went close through Ruben Vezo’s header and Jose Luis Morales’ angled shot, both in stoppage time.

Lopez added: “I told them (at half-time) to forget the result and have faith and conviction and it paid off.

“That helped us to score soon after the break and it was Madrid who finished asking how long was there to go.”

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