By Iain Rogers
MADRID (Reuters) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane shrugged off his first setback since taking over from the sacked Rafa Benitez after his new team could only manage a 1-1 draw at Real Betis in La Liga on Sunday.
In the Frenchman’s third game in charge and his first away from home, Real fell behind to a spectacular Alvaro Cejudo volley in the seventh minute before Karim Benzema levelled 19 minutes from time.
Betis withstood waves of attacks throughout the match in Seville, with goalkeeper Antonio Adan, a former Real player, on sparkling form and Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema and Pepe wasteful in front of goal.
Zidane said his team had deserved more than a single point, which left them four adrift of leaders Barcelona and second-placed Atletico Madrid with just over half the season played.
Barca, who have a game in hand and host Atletico next weekend, lead on goal difference.
“We will follow our working plan and we’re on the right track,” Zidane told a news conference.
“You have to focus on the positive,” added the 43-year-old former Real and France great, promoted from B team coach when Benitez was abruptly fired this month.
“We dropped two points and that is the negative part but we have to think that we can get over this and that you have to fight for the league until the end.”
Real have what should be two relatively easy La Liga games at home to Espanyol and away to Granada before they host Athletic Bilbao on Feb. 13.
They travel to the Italian capital to play AS Roma in the Champions League last 16 four days later.
Zidane said Real had made things difficult with a slow start to Sunday’s game.
“After that, with the match we played we deserved a lot more. But that’s football. When you have chances you have to take them. We didn’t have any luck.”
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)