Pellegrini gets vote of confidence from Real Madrid

Real Madrid director general Jorge Valdano gave under-pressure coach Manuel Pellegrini a vote of confidence in the wake of last night's Champions League exit at the hands of Lyon.

Madrid started the second leg well but could not build on Cristiano Ronaldo's early strike and Miralem Pjanic's 75th-minute equaliser for Lyon earned the French side a 2-1 aggregate win and a place in the quarter-finals.

Madrid have now fallen at the last 16 stage of the Champions League for six successive years and, with this season's final being played at their Bernabeu home, this exit will be particularly painful.

As was the case when Madrid were dumped out of the Copa del Rey in humiliating circumstances earlier this season when they lost 4-1 on aggregate to third tier Alcorcon, the spotlight fell on coach Pellegrini.

Both Pellegrini and Valdano were quizzed about the coach's future after the game, and while Pellegrini insisted he was not going to resign, Valdano also played down the likelihood of there being a managerial change in the near future.

"We will respect him because we believe in his work, although we know that the coach of Madrid is always accompanied by controversy," Valdano said of Pellegrini.

"He has a contract for next season and the plan is that he will continue being our coach.

"The season hasn't finished and there are still things to fight for."

Valdano added: "I've suffered like all Madrid fans. We had high hopes but we couldn't overcome an opponent who made the game very hard for us and who overcame the difficult situation they faced in the first half.

"In the second half there was tiredness, although we wanted to win. This mixture of tiredness and our own ambition made us lose the game and the tie."

Madrid, who have had nine different coaches since Vicente Del Bosque left the club in 2003, spent around 250million euros on new players last summer in a bid to get back to the top of the pile both in Spain and in Europe.

However, with the Champions League and Copa del Rey now out of their reach, Madrid only have the Primera Division title to try and salvage something from their first season back under the presidency of Florentino Perez.

Madrid replaced arch rivals Barcelona at the top of the Primera Division standings last weekend after defeating Sevilla 3-2 at the Bernabeu.

Valdano added: "This project (under Perez) has only just started and this was a sad night because we had placed a lot of hope in this competition.

"We need to be more united than ever, to encourage the players and show our personality, to get over this situation and face the criticism that will come."

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