Real Madrid needed a win against Borussia Monchengladbach to reach the Champions League knockouts, and they duly delivered.
Needing a victory to guarantee their place in the Champions League last 16, Madrid delivered at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, with Karim Benzema heading in the goals in the first half.
Benzema, Luka Modric and Lucas Vazquez all hit the woodwork, while goalkeeper Yann Sommer made flying saves to deny Sergio Ramos and Toni Kroos to keep the scoreline down.
Failure to go through could well have seen Zidane’s position become untenable, and the Madrid boss was delighted with the way his side performed under pressure.
“This was the objective: to finish first,” he said, as quoted by Marca. “We played a spectacular game, from the first minute to the last. We interpreted the game really well.
“I think this was the most complete game of the season. I’ve been a player and it’s impossible to play like this all the time. We try to, but every now and then…
29 – Real Madrid have now progressed from all 29 of the Champions League group stages (including second group stage), the most of any side in the competition’s history. Invincible. pic.twitter.com/qTjtO8V3Ld
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 9, 2020
“We don’t only perform under pressure; we have played other good games as well. It’s true this team has that [quality]: when the difficulties are great, it appears.
“I’m happy for the players because they are the most important thing. I’m fighting with them and I’m happy for them. It was a good game.”
Benzema’s pair of headers means he has been involved in 11 goals in all competitions this season, the joint-most of any LaLiga player.
The striker’s double took his tally to 51 goals in the group stages, a figure bettered only by Raul (53), Cristiano Ronaldo (67) and Lionel Messi (71).
“It was a difficult game,” Benzema said. “We started well, we were eager to win and to show we’re the best and that we were going to work together to win this game.
“When we give everything on the pitch, we get goals and we could have got more. If we always play like today…”