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Zidane calls for patience as Hazard makes Real Madrid return in Elche draw

The Belgium international overcame his latest injury to play his first minutes for the Blancos since November

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane has called for patience after Eden Hazard made his return from injury against Elche on Wednesday. 

Hazard’s time at Madrid has been blighted by injuries and he suffered his latest setback on November 28, as he was pulled from his side’s match against Alaves with a thigh strain.

The Belgian missed a month of action and was an unused substitute in his return to Madrid’s matchday squad last week against Granada. 

Hazard did see the field on Wednesday, coming on for the final 13 minutes of his side’s 1-1 draw. 

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In his post-game press conference Zidane addressed the status of Hazard as well as Martin Odegaard, who was an unused substitute against Elche and hasn’t seen the field since December 1 due to a combination of injuries and his coach’s decision.

“We made three changes tonight and Martin wasn’t involved, but there’s no issue there,” Zidane said of the Norway international. 

“Hazard returned tonight, but he needs time and games under his belt. It’s a case of taking it step by step,” he added.

Luka Modric opened the scoring on 20 minutes against Elche, but Madrid were pegged back early in the second half through a Fidel penalty. 

Zidane felt the key to the match was his side’s failure to find a second goal in the first half, as Madrid’s five-game winning streak in La Liga came to a halt. 

“We created a number of chances in the first half to have got that second goal, which would have allowed us to be more relaxed, but when they got the equaliser, everything became that bit more difficult for us,” Zidane said.

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“They dropped deeper and we struggled in the second half. That’s just the way things go in football and we’ve got to keep going. If you look at the first half, it’s a case of two points dropped, but we have to keep on working hard.

“Everyone’s going to end up dropping points. This is a very tough league. We had produced a number of good performances coming into tonight’s match and we’ve dropped two points here, but we have to keep on doing what we’re doing because it’s a very long league season and there’s a long way to go.”

The draw saw Madrid fall two points behind Atletico Madrid, who won earlier on Wednesday to extend their lead atop the La Liga table. Diego Simeone’s side also have two games in hand over their city rivals. 

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