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Champions League: Ramos, Modric hail Zidane’s tactics as Real Madrid cruise past Atalanta

REAL MADRID captain Sergio Ramos and midfielder Luka Modric have attributed their progress to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals to the tactical set-up deployed by their manager Zinedine Zidane.

The Spanish giants won 3-1 in Madrid on Tuesday night to complete a 4-1 aggregate victory in the round of 16 tie.

Playing three at the back and a congested midfield, Real Madrid restricted the normally free-scoring Atalanta to few chances.

Karim Benzema broke the deadlock for the hosts by sweeping in Modric’s pass after a poor clearance by goalkeeper Marco Sportiello.

Vinicius Junior was then brought down in the Atalanta box by Rafael Toloi for Ramos to score the resulting penalty. 

Luis Muriel reduced thd arrears with a wonderful free-kick but Madrid quickly completed the scoring as Marco Asensio drilled in their third on the counterattack.

Ramos, who has now scored 15 Champions League goals, one more than legends Zidane and Brazilian Ronaldo, credited the tactics for their comfortable win.

“Our aim was to get through and we achieved that with a great result,” he told reporters.

“We could have scored more and we’re happy with how we played. You adapt your approach to your opponent. “We didn’t know how they were going to press but we quickly took control thanks to our three-at-the-back set-up. We knew that with their speed they could be dangerous, but it went well and they didn’t really threaten us.”

Modric, who was named man of the match after a brilliant performance, said his team stuck to Zidane’s instructions. 

“We had to match them physically and with the ball, and we did that,” the Croatia midfielder said.

“We’re really happy. The first goal was really important to get. The boss asked us to press high and that’s what we did, and it gave us confidence.”

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois added: “I’m happy with the performance and getting through. We put in a lot of effort and could’ve scored more. 

“Atalanta, who are a side who score a lot of goals in Italy, only got one against us and that was from a set piece. We were great defensively. We know how to press and when to take a step back.”

Atalanta striker Duván Zapata was unhappy with the result as expected, and admitted they committed costly errors.

“We’re disappointed as we wanted to progress,” he said.

“We struggled to play our football tonight, sadly it went like this. We started well, pressing high, but then our mistakes made it harder for us.”

The draw for the quarter-finals will be held on Friday.

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