David Alaba said Carlo Ancelotti told him he’d score a free kick winner for Real Madrid, moments before stepping onto the pitch to dispatch the set piece that gave the LaLiga champions a 2-1 win at Almeria in their first game of the season.
When the visitors were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position in the 74th minute, Ancelotti sent on set piece specialist Alaba to score with his first touch, curling in off the crossbar to give Madrid all three points.
“Before I came on, Ancelotti told me to take the free kick because I was going to score,” Alaba told Movistar. “After the goal he said to me, ‘See, I told you!'”
Alaba added: “The team showed me a lot of trust, and I felt good. I’m really happy to score the free kick. [It’s] crazy.”
Coach Ancelotti looked to share the credit for the decision in his post-match news conference, saying his son and assistant Davide Ancelotti was responsible.
“At first Karim [Benzema] or Toni [Kroos] were going to take it,” Ancelotti said. “But from that position Alaba shoots well. Davide said to me ‘Give it to Alaba.’ It wasn’t easy to say no to Karim or Toni…but he shot and scored.”
“We wanted to come here and start the season with a win and we’re very glad to achieve that,” Alaba said. “We had some problems in the first half, but came back stronger in the second [half]. We want to keep going this season. What happened last season was last season, we’re looking forward and we’re really motivated.”
Ancelotti admitted that the team’s first-half performance had been disappointing, after he made five changes to the side that won the UEFA Super Cup against Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday, including starts for Eduardo Camavinga and debutant Aurelien Tchouamani in midfield.
“The youngsters didn’t play how they usually play,” Ancelotti said. “I see them every day in training. Today’s game, emotionally, they paid for it a bit. They didn’t do anything wrong but they can do much better.”