Football

Real in deep trouble, but will keep the faith: Zidane

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane vowed to keep fighting on after his side were left in danger of a shock early Champions League exit after Tuesday’s (Dec 1) 2-0 defeat at Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Spanish champions have failed to win their last three La Liga matches and head into their final Champions League group game third in Group B, after goals from Dentinho and Manor Solomon condemned them to a second defeat by the Ukrainian side after losing 3-2 in October.

Real host group leaders Borussia Moenchengladbach next Wednesday, while Shakhtar, who are second due to a superior head-to-head record over Real, visit bottom side Inter Milan.

“I feel strong and as always I’m going to give everything and so will the players,” Zidane said.

“We just have to keep our chins up and focus on the next game. There’s nothing else we can do.”

The Frenchman resigned as Real coach in May 2018 shortly after winning a third consecutive Champions League in Kiev, but insisted there was no chance of him doing the same now.

“I’m not going to resign, no way,” he said.

“We played very well in the first half, but the ball didn’t want to go in the net. We had lots of chances, we hit the post and after that things got more difficult for us.

“We’re on a bad run of results, that’s a reality, but we have to keep on going. We have one more game (in the group) and we have to win it.”

The result also underlined how much they miss defensive talisman Sergio Ramos when he is not there. This was Real’s seventh defeat in the last nine Champions League matches they have played without Ramos, who is currently injured.

Perhaps this game would have turned out differently had Marco Asensio scored in the fifth minute rather than turn Karim Benzema’s cross onto the post.

Dentinho had replaced the injured Junior Moraes in the first half and the Brazilian got the opening goal just before the hour mark. Ferland Mendy intercepted a Viktor Kovalenko ball into the box, but only succeeded in laying it on a plate for Dentinho to tuck it past Thibaut Courtois and into the net.

The Ukrainian champions then made sure of their victory on the counter-attack with eight minutes remaining as Israeli international Solomon picked up the ball from the halfway line and advanced unchallenged before picking his spot.

Real midfielder Luka Modric said the players were feeling low after the defeat but backed his team, who have qualified from the group stage 23 years in a row, to get the job done.

“It’s difficult to explain what is happening to us right now, we are in a very difficult situation, but we still have one game left and we’re going to do everything to win it,” he said.

“Real Madrid have always shown who we are when we need to win, but we need to do our talking on the pitch now.” – REUTERS, AFP

FootballChampions LeagueREAL MADRIDShakhtar DonetskGroup BZinedine Zidane