Real Madrid goalkeeper Kiko Casilla says he felt “a mixture of surprise and joy” after making the starting line-up against Espanyol, but defended under-fire team-mate Keylor Navas.
Navas has kept just one clean sheet in his last five appearances for Madrid and head coach Zinedine Zidane opted to start with Casilla against Espanyol, despite usually only selecting the Spaniard in cup games.
Casilla was barely tested as goals from Alvaro Morata and Gareth Bale earned Madrid their eighth straight home La Liga win, but the goalkeeper took the opportunity to express support for Navas.
“Keylor Navas does not deserve the criticism he has received,” Casilla told Marca.com . “Goalkeepers are at the front of everything and if we thought about everything that was written and said, we couldn’t live.
“I know my responsibility and the cup games were where I was going to play but when you are involved you feel happy and active.
“You always expect to play but when you have been on the bench for so long and you are told it is your time then you feel a mixture of surprise and joy, it was a special match for me.”
Espanyol had scored in their previous eight consecutive league games and Casilla recognised the danger posed by Quique Sanchez Flores’ side.
He said: “At 1-0 it was danger because a mistake or a counter-attack could hurt you but with the second goal we put to bed the risk of strange things happening.”