“He has always been the difference”. Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane singled out Sergio Ramos after the influential captain helped the European champions to UEFA Super Cup glory on Tuesday.
Ramos produced a man-of-the-match display as Madrid overcame 10-man Sevilla 3-2 after extra time in Trondheim.
The experienced center-back equalized in the 93rd minute to keep Madrid alive before full-back Dani Carvajal scored the winner in the final minute of extra time.
And Ramos, who had a goal ruled out in extra time, was praised by Zidane post-match.
“You have to congratulate Sevilla on their great performance,” said Zidane, who became just the fifth coach to win the Super Cup having also hoisted the trophy aloft as a player.
“Sometimes to play a great game it takes two sides and today we saw just that. In the end we won, but Sevilla were very good.
“Sergio Ramos is our captain, an important player and he’s always there to earn us the trophy. There were no special instructions for him. With a player like Sergio, he’s always been the difference. We’ve seen it before. He’s grown as a player, too. In this final he was there just where he needed to be.”
Madrid were missing star trio Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Toni Kroos but the Spanish giants witnessed the emergence of Marco Asensio.
Asensio opened the scoring in style in the 21st minute, though three-time defending Europa League champions Sevilla hit back via Franco Vazquez and Yevhen Konoplyanka, before Ramos restored parity at the death.
And after Timothee Kolodziejczak was sent off for a second bookable offense in extra time, Carvajal scored a sensational solo goal to sink Sevilla.
“We have a good squad. We have players who also weren’t here today; four or five players in fact. It’s a good squad. We’ve got young and experienced players,” Zidane added.
“The group is always the most important; it’s always been that way.”