Football

Real Madrid still in title race, says coach despite shock loss

Real Madrid will keep believing they can chase down La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid even after Saturday's shock 2-1 home defeat by Levante, assistant coach David Bettoni said.

Real had to play 81 minutes with 10 men after Eder Militao was sent off, but they took the lead through Marco Asensio before Levante's Jose Luis Morales equalised and Roger Marti struck the winner for the visitors shortly after having a penalty saved.

"It's a difficult defeat for us because it was an uphill struggle for us from the ninth minute," said Bettoni, who took charge of the game as coach Zinedine Zidane was still recovering from Covid-19.

"We got our goal, but their equaliser sucked the life out of us. We started the second half well and had a few chances, but the second goal was a tough blow for us to take."

An eighth defeat in all competitions this season left Real seven points behind leaders Atletico Madrid, who will go 10 points clear at the top of the standings if they win at Cadiz this morning (Singapore time) and will have another game in hand.

Real stormed to the Spanish title last season with a relentless 10-game winning streak and Bettoni said the team were not about to surrender to their neighbours.

"Real Madrid fans will keep on believing in their team because it's in the club's DNA to keep fighting for titles until the end," Bettoni added.

"With one player less, we kept on pressing high and that's very positive. We're obviously disappointed, but we can feel proud of the fact we kept on playing right until the end.

"I saw a team that showed real attitude and character. The players are very sad, but they have the spirit to keep fighting until the end." - REUTERS

Football