Zidane is my idol - James

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James Rodriguez hailed Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane as his "idol" after making a goalscoring return to the starting line-up in the European champions' 2-0 win at Espanyol.

Madrid made it a record-equalling 16 LaLiga wins in succession as James and Karim Benzema scored either side of half-time at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat, making light of superstar forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale sitting out the contest.

James has struggled for a regular first-team berth under Zidane but he told reporters after the match that he holds his coach in the highest regard.

"Zidane is my idol. Real Madrid is my dream," he said. "I hope it lasts much more time.

"My family and I are very happy in Madrid and in the team. I will fight to stay here for ever.

"It's not true that I've had a bad time. Me not speaking [to the public] doesn't mean I have a bad relationship with anyone.

"We are united as a team and everyone is supporting me here since the first day. We want more wins and more records.

"I understand the coach's decisions. He knows I always want to help the team, not just with goals and assists."

James' wonderful solo strike settled Madrid during first-half stoppage time in a match they initially struggled to stamp their authority upon.

"We fell a little behind in the first half but gathered ourselves and the goal came soon enough," he added.