Ramos to the rescue, again
Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos believes the European champions will ride the momentum of their dramatic 3-2 win over Deportivo la Coruna into their quest to win the Club World Cup.
Real flew out to Japan yesterday with the aim of being crowned the world's best team for a fifth time on the back of a club record 35-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
However, a much-changed Real side had to rely on Ramos to bail them out late on once more yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Just a week after netting a last-minute equaliser against Barcelona, Ramos powered home the winner as Real overcame a 2-1 deficit in the final six minutes.
"In the end, we won the game and that is the way we go into a competition like the Club World Cup," said the Spanish international.
Real coach Zinedine Zidane left Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Luka Modric out of his squad completely as he rested the majority of his first-choice XI.
That decision nearly backfired as Joselu struck twice in two minutes for Deportivo just after the hour mark to cancel out Alvaro Morata's opener.
Said Ramos: "It wasn't a great performance.
"We made mistakes which were costly, but at the end we managed to turn it around.
However, Zidane claimed those that came into the side had done themselves proud as substitute Mariano Diaz took advantage of a rare first-team chance to head home Lucas Vazquez's cross and set up a grandstand finish.
"I am happy for all the players because they played great," said Zidane.
"The game became complicated when we made a mistake for the first goal...
"In the end, we got the three points and that is the most important thing."
The late fightback ensured Zidane's men have now surpassed Real's previous record of 34 games unbeaten from the 1988/89 season under Dutch coach Leo Beenhakker.
However, Deportivo coach Gaizka Garitano raged that Real had been the beneficiaries of favourable refereeing.
"They have a lot of potential, but when you see five minutes added on in a game when there has been no time lost, we knew it would be played until they score," said Garitano. - AFP