Carlo Ancelotti believes Eden Hazard will recover his best form soon after Real Madrid battled past Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey.
Hazard started just his ninth game of 2021-22 in Wednesday's 3-1 victory against the third-tier outfit, who famously beat Madrid in this competition a year ago.
Dani Vega's excellent run and finish cancelled out Eder Militao's opener for Madrid, who were without several first-team regulars including Thibaut Courtois, David Alaba, Dani Carvajal, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema.
Substitutes Marco Asensio and Isco eventually secured a hard-fought win, the former scoring via a deflected effort following Hazard's lay-off before Isco diverted the ball in off goalkeeper Jose Juan.
Hazard, Rodrygo and Mariano Diaz struggled to combine effectively in the Madrid attack, although the Belgium international ended the match with four chances created, at least twice as many as any other player.
Ancelotti felt the game was ill-suited to creative players but remains convinced Hazard can become a key player for Los Blancos despite an underwhelming two and a half years in Spain.
"Players of quality suffered more than the others," Ancelotti said. "He tried, then as a number nine, like Isco, who scored when he came on, and I'm happy for him.
"Hazard, Rodrygo and these players with more quality suffered more than others.
"He needs to have more confidence in one-v-ones, dribbling, shooting, because he has the quality to do that.
"His physical condition is better than a few months ago, and hopefully we'll see him back at his best level soon."
Ancelotti praised his players for surviving a battle at El Collao against a side who eliminated LaLiga strugglers Levante on penalties in the last round after a 3-3 draw.
"We played the game we had to," he said.
"Of course, we suffered [at 1-1]. They levelled the game through a really good individual action, one of quality.
"Afterwards, we didn't lose our heads and we kept playing the game. We couldn't play another game – this is the one we'd prepared.
"We finished them today. It's not our type of game because delivering quality in these types of games isn't possible.
"We stood up to a team who usually play with quality and today they put that aside and they fought. It's what they had to do. I repeat: if you don't fight here, you lose, like we did last year."