Football

Real disaster

Title hopes all but over 
as Ancelotti's decision 
to defend lead backfires

REAL VALLADOLID 1

(Humberto Osorio 85)

REAL MADRID 1

(Sergio Ramos 35)

Real Madrid's La Liga title hopes were all but ended after they conceded five minutes from time to draw 1-1 away to Real Valladolid yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Sergio Ramos' free-kick had given Real the lead 10 minutes before half-time, but Humberto Osorio's late header rounded off a horrible evening for the visitors as Cristiano Ronaldo also hobbled off with an injury.

The draw leaves Real four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid and a point adrift of Barcelona with two games to play.

Real will be mathematically out of the title race should Atletico win at home to Malaga on Sunday and Atletico could be crowned champions for the first time in 18 years should Barcelona also drop points away to Elche.

"It is a shame that with two games to go and all the effort we have put in that it is almost impossible to win the league," Ramos told Canal Plus.

"We failed to kill the game off, but it wasn't for the want of trying.

"The league is practically lost but, while mathematically it is still possible, Real Madrid are obliged to fight."

Real boss Carlo Ancelotti said that he didn't believe Ronaldo's injury was too serious, but he also has injury worries over Pepe and Angel di Maria as they both ended the game with problems.

The former Chelsea manager was spot-on when Ronaldo took part in training with his Real Madrid teammates yesterday.

The World Player of the Year was able to run freely during the training session alongside Gareth Bale, who had also missed the trip to Valladolid due to a knock suffered in the 2-2 draw with Valencia last Sunday.

With Real's quest for a 33rd La Liga title in jeopardy, Ancelotti may rest his two star men in Real's last two league games against Celta Vigo and Espanyol to ensure they are fit to face Atletico in the Champions League final on May 24.

Sections of the Spanish press were quick to criticise Ancelotti for making two defensive substitutions in introducing Asier Illarramendi and Marcelo for Isco and Karim Benzema respectively in the final quarter of the match against Valladolid.

The Italian admitted that his side sat too deep as they attempted to protect their lead in the final stages.

"We lost control, but I don't think it was a lack of attitude on the players' part," said Ancelotti.

"Iker (Casillas) didn't have a save to make in the whole game.

"I think the team played well but, at the end, it became more difficult.

"We sat back too much and defended too deep and in the end conceded a goal from a set-piece." 
- Wire Services.