Under-pressure Real Madrid boss Vincente Del Bosque refused to be downhearted after Real slipped to another disappointing result, this time losing to Roma at the Bernabeu.
Despite the 1-0 reverse, qualification was still ensured courtesy of AEK Athens’ failure to beat Genk, but after beginning the competition in sparkling form, Real have now gone three Champions League games without a win.
‘We certainly aren’t as badly off as our recent results may suggest and any talk of a crisis is a massive exaggeration,” said del Bosque after Real’s latest reverse.
“We can’t be satisfied with the result,” he admitted.
“But on the other hand we have qualified and that is something that Roma have yet to do.”
Ronaldo one again failed to hit the target, and extended the winless run Madrid have endured with the Brazilian in the starting line up. Del Bosque cited the injury lay offs a number of his star players have suffered as reason for the recent Real dip in form.
“I am not one for excuses, but Luis Figo, Raul and Ronaldo are all playing after injury layoffsand we are still waiting for them to find that understanding they will get from playing along side each other,” he explained.
“We lacked precision in front of goal, and it wasn’t easy to find a way past the Roma defence. The most pleasing part for me was the effort given by all the players,” he added.
Jubilant Roma matchwinner Francesco Totti was overjoyed with the win.
“To score the winning goal from open play in Madrid is an incredible feeling,” he said.
“We provedthat Roma are a great team and this is the most important victory of my career,” added an ecstatic Totti.
Coach Fabio Capello was equally delighted, especially as Real had beaten Roma 3-0 in the opening group game, a defeat he now blames on the late start to the Italian season.
“We lost in the first match because Real Madrid were physically better but today we have shown that if we are fit we can compete at the same level,” he said.
Capello also praised the spirit of his team.
“The match tonight was very good. I have to highlight the personality of my team. I am very happy to win here. We have won convincingly.”
“We played a very good game and had lots of scoring opportunities, but we didn’t quite manage to finish them off. But what pleased me most of all was the fact that we played with great character,” added the Italian.
To be sure of progressing, Roma must now avoid defeat in their final group game at home to AEK Athens, who could only muster a 1-1 draw with Genk in Greece.
AEK had a number of contentious decisions go against them last night, but coach Dusan Bajevic refused to criticise Swiss referee Massimo Busacca.
“I will not speak about specific decisions nor will I ever say that the referee is to blame for the fact that we did not win,” declared Bajevic.
Draw specialists AEK have now registered stalemates in all five of their games, and must beat Roma in two weeks time to qualify at the expense of the Italians.
Bajevic blamed poor finishing for last night’s failure to see off Genk, but insisted a win in Italy was not beyond his team.
“What upsets me is that we had chances but we simply did not finish well enough,” he lamented.
“The goals just didn’t come. Now we have the same chances to progress as we did before the game. It will be a tough task to win at the Stadio Olimpico but everything is possible in football,” he maintained.
Genk are out of the competition, and even their chances of third spot in the group and a UEFA Cup place look remote, as they need a big win over Real Madrid in their final fixture.
They did manage their first group goal last night however, and coach Sef Vergoosen felt they gave a good account of themselves.
“We started very well, especially in the first half when we controlled the match, said Vergoofsen.
“After the break it was more difficult and we were under more pressure and made mistakes. It was nevertheless a game where any result was possible, where either team could have won,” he reflected.