MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid midfielder Isco staked his claim for a place in Zinedine Zidane’s first team with a sensational performance against Sporting Gijon on Saturday.
The Spaniard scored twice in Madrid’s 3-2 win at El Molinon and was the man-of-the-match, with his dribbling impossible for the hosts to handle. The victory allowed Madrid to preserve their three-point lead over Barcelona in La Liga.
Despite his immense talent, Isco has found himself used as a reserve for most of the season, starting just four of Madrid’s last 12 matches and 15 in total in La Liga.
Isco has only played 77 minutes for Real Madrid in the Champions League across two appearances, but after he stood head and shoulders above his team mates in Gijon, he may be rewarded with a start against Bayern Munich on Tuesday.
Madrid have a 2-1 advantage from the quarter-final first leg in Germany and with Gareth Bale set to miss the game through injury, Isco might start in his place on the right wing.
Isco’s contract expires in June 2018 and Real Madrid want to tie him down with a new deal, according to reports in Spain.
“I have always made it clear that I want to be here for many years,” he said after the win over Sporting. “I don’t know why it surprises people that I want to play more. Both the club and I are going to make the right decision.”
Against Sporting the 24-year-old appeared everywhere on the pitch, starting in central midfield but roaming and searching for the ball to make things happen for Los Blancos.
His first goal was a work of art, lots of quick touches in the area to dart away from the defence and then a curled left-foot finish in to the top corner.
The midfield magician’s second goal was crucial as it handed Madrid the victory in the 90th minute. Isco found a pocket of space on the edge of the area and drilled the ball inside Ivan Cuellar’s near post.
Zidane admitted he feels bad for not giving Isco more playing time this season.
“I feel unfair to all those who do not play,” said the coach. “But he is a great player, he has shown that. Real Madrid is his place.”
The coach has the chance to make amends in the coming weeks, with Isco demonstrating he is willing and able to help Madrid fight for the league title and the Champions League.
Editing by Pritha Sarkar