Zinedine Zidane is unconcerned about Vinicius Junior’s lack of goals after Real Madrid recorded a fourth straight LaLiga win.
Centre-back Raphael Varane and striker Karim Benzema were on target in the 2-0 win over Espanyol at the Bernabeu that moved Real back to the top of the table ahead of Barcelona’s clash with Mallorca in Saturday’s late kick-off.
Real were without injured wingers Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard, so Zidane started teenage duo Vinicius and Rodrygo together for the first time.
Vinicius impressed throughout with his pace and trickery down the left, but he missed a number of chances and has managed to score just once this season.
Real boss Zidane, quoted by Marca, said: “The important thing is his work. What he has done he has done well, both in attack and defence.
“He started the game very well. Today he has had to play and he has done quite well, although everyone likes to score.
“The important thing is to score one and then get into some rhythm. These are things that come with confidence.
“I do not ask anyone for goals. That is a consequence of what the team does. Today it was Varane’s turn, for example.”
Varane’s goal was his first for the club since March and he told the club’s website: “We’re a team. The strikers help us and we help them. It’s a team job and I’m happy with my goal.
“We’re more confident, looking fit and are on a good run. We’ve got to keep it up because between now and the end the year we have some tough games and we’ll be giving our all.”
The only disappointment for Real during Saturday’s win was Ferland Mendy’s late dismissal for a second bookable offence.
Mendy will miss next weekend’s league clash with Valencia, while fellow left-back Marcelo is sidelined through injury.
Espanyol boss Pablo Machin felt Real were lucky not to have also had Vinicius sent off earlier. The 19-year-old – who had already been booked – collided with former Real goalkeeper Diego Lopez.
Machin said: “The second card to Vinicius is clear. There are many who think that it could have been a second yellow.”
On his side’s performance – off the back of last week’s 4-2 home defeat to Osasuna – Machin added: “The reality is that we have not been able to score, but we set a target to improve and many have done that today. We have changed the image.”