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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Real Madrid president Florentino Perez described manager Zinedine Zidane as “a blessing from heaven” after he guided the club to the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
The Bernabeu side defeated Atletico Madrid 4-1 on penalties at King Abdullah Sports City after the match in Jeddah finished goalless after extra-time. Saul and Thomas Partey failed to convert in the shootout, leaving Madrid captain Sergio Ramos to clinch the win.
His team had finished the match with 10 men after Federico Valverde was sent off late on for a professional foul on Alvaro Morata.
The victory was Madrid’s 11th Super Cup, and Zidane’s ninth trophy of his two spells at the club. The Frenchman, who returned to the dugout in March last year, boasts a 100 per cent record in finals as a manager. During his first stint in charge, he became the first coach to win three successive Champions League titles.
"[Zidane] has plenty of trophies and we're very happy for him," Perez said. "I hope that he wins more trophies.
"Zidane has a loving relationship with Real Madrid. He decided to rest for a year and now he's returned with renewed energy. Zidane is a blessing from heaven."
Perez said the team deserved particular credit given they arrived at the expanded competition, played in Saudi for the first time and kick-starting a three-year deal with the Kingdom, without several key players.
Eden Hazard, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Marcos Asensio were all missing, but that didn’t prevent Madrid from capturing their first trophy of the season. Currently joint-top of La Liga alongside Barcelona, they return to domestic action on Saturday at home to Sevilla.
"We came here without some great players, like Hazard, Benzema and Bale," Perez said. "Zidane has been able to put together a team and we won the trophy. We're on the path to finding ourselves again after a little dip. New people have come in who have given the team intensity and we're on a good path."
Perez also praised goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who was excellent on the night when called upon, including a fine save from Partey in the shootout.
"We brought [Courtois] here because we believe he's the best goalkeeper in the world, and he has been," Perez said. “He was one of the key players in the victory."
Meanwhile, Ramos said afterwards that superstition had dictated he take the fourth penalty, which just so happened to be the decisive one. The centre-back also claimed he was planning to attempt a "Panenka", but his ankle had seized up after he had earlier left the pitch to have treatment.
"Awards demonstrate [the club's success] more than words," Ramos said.
"It's the biggest and most successful club in the world for a reason and it's because it's won throughout its history, generation after generation.
"This is why Real Madrid is so big."
At 33, Ramos remains key to Madrid's assault on the game's premier prizes. He looks certain to became the most decorated player in the club's illustrious history, a mark currently held by Francisco Gento.
"I'm older now and I'm very patient," he said. "On a personal level, it's a special day for me. When [trophies] come in the latter years, you see it in a different way.
"It's always a challenge that I'm two trophies behind overtaking the player with the most in history. Let's hope I can do it."
Updated: January 13, 2020 08:29 AM
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