Real Madrid manager Santiago Solari has said he is 'very pleased' by the performance of Isco, who replaced the injured Gareth Bale at half-time in Real Madrid's 2-2 draw at Villarreal.
Real, who returned to domestic action for the first time since winning the Club World Cup before Christmas, were left frustrated by two Santi Cazorla goals either side of half-time.
The result means that Villarreal move out of the relegation zone whilst Los Blancos are now seven points behind table-toppers Barcelona after failing to win on Thursday night.
As quoted by Football España, Solari said after the game: “We had the win in our hands and had to kill the game off, but then they pressed and scored the equaliser.
“They pressed well and we lacked depth. Bale took a blow and left the field with a strain. He couldn’t carry on.
Santi Cazorla almost lost a foot two years ago. Tonight he was man of the match against the European and World champions.— Alex Kirkland (@alexkirkland) January 3, 2019
“Modric gave everything, Modric had the flu but still gave us a lot of energy and everything he had.
“Those players aren’t Ballon d’Or winners, but Valverde gave us energy and control when he came on. He has that stride and we’re happy with the contributions of our young players.
“I don’t think we had a lack of control in the second half. For me, it was more a lack of depth and ability to do damage.
“There were openings for us to score the third goal, but we didn’t come out with enough clarity and there are specialists like Bale who had to be replaced.
“Isco was very good. I’m very happy with his performance.”
Solari's nod to Isco's performance is interesting given the speculation over the attacking midfield star's future in recent weeks. Some had tipped Isco to leave Real Madrid in the January transfer window after seeing his game time limited under Sola
Real will be hoping to bounce back to winning ways in their next La Liga fixture, which sees them host Real Sociedad on Sunday at 17:30 GMT.