Football

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos blasts critics over biased ref claims

Real defender, who scored in win over Mallorca, wants nonsense talk to stop

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has rubbished suggestions that his side have been getting favourable refereeing decisions recently, arguing critics are looking for ways to attack the team since they returned to the top of La Liga.

"All this noise is to be expected because now we are top of the league, people weren't saying so much about us before that," Ramos said, after his side beat Real Mallorca 2-0 yesterday morning (Singapore time) to sneak back above Barcelona in the title race.

Madrid trailed Barca by two points when the season resumed earlier this month, but are now level with their rivals on 68 and lead the standings due to their superior head-to-head record.

The victory over Mallorca was Madrid's fourth win in a row, while Barca have won three and drew 0-0 away to Sevilla last Friday.

Madrid benefited from having an opening goal by Valencia ruled out in their 3-0 win last Thursday, prompting Barca's Gerard Pique to remark: "Looking at how the matches have gone, it'll be very hard for Madrid to drop points."

Zinedine Zidane's side then saw three key decisions go their way in Sunday's 2-1 win at Real Sociedad, including another goal for their opponents being ruled out.

Their opening strike against Mallorca, scored by Vinicius Junior, could also have been ruled out for a foul by Dani Carvajal in the build-up.

But Ramos, who doubled Madrid's advantage in the second half with a majestic free-kick, said it was nonsense that his side were being shown preferential treatment.

"I don't think any pre-determined decisions are being taken, it's as if we have to say thanks to the referees for being top of the league," said Ramos, who took his season tally to nine goals, becoming the first defender to score eight or more in a single La Liga campaign since Ezequiel Garay in 2006/07.

"People need to stop making things up."

Zidane was pleased with his side's display, saying winning four in a row since the restart is by no means easy, but felt they could improve in attack.

"The set-up isn't the most important thing for me, it's more about what we do on the pitch with the ball," Zidane said.

NOT EASY

"We can do better, but I'm satisfied with what I saw and what these players are doing is not at all easy. That's four wins in a row, that's a credit to the players.

"The standout feature for us today was our defensive solidity all round. We can get better going forward and that's what we'll try to do.

"We're training well and we always want more... We have seven finals left, the players have to recover well and continue with what we are doing, we haven't won anything."

Meanwhile, Mallorca's Luka Romero made La Liga history by becoming the youngest player ever to play when he came on as a substitute against Madrid, aged 15 years and 219 days.

The Mexican-born attacking midfielder beat the record held for 81 years by Francisco Bao Rodriguez, known as Sanson, who played on Dec 31, 1939 aged 15 and 255 days for Celta Vigo against Sevilla. - REUTERS

OTHER RESULTS:

Real Sociedad 0 Celta Vigo 1, Alaves 0 Osasuna 1

Football