Ramos backs Real to complete Lyons renaissance at Bernabeu
Thursday 24 February 2011
Real Madrid's 1-1 Champions League draw at Lyons on Tuesday went some way towards ending their jinx against the French club but the players were frustrated at their failure to secure a decisive victory.
Lyons eliminated the Spanish giants at the same stage last season, Real's sixth straight failure to make the quarter-finals, and there will no doubt be a few nervous home fans at the Bernabeu for the second leg on 16 March.
Before Tuesday, Real's record at Lyons' Stade de Gerland was three defeats, no goals scored and six conceded but things seemed to be looking up when former Lyons striker Karim Benzema netted for the Spanish club in the 65th minute. However, an 83rd-minute equaliser from Bafetimbi Gomis rescued a draw for the home side and left the tie nicely balanced for the second leg at the Bernabeu.
"I come away feeling a little sad," said Real's Portuguese defender Pepe. "We deserved to leave here with a win, unfortunately it wasn't to be and we have the match at the Bernabeu to get through," he added.
Real, bidding for a 10th continental title, will be firm favourites to progress given they have won all 19 home games in all competitions since Jose Mourinho took over as coach at the end of last season.
Right back Sergio Ramos, whose header against the bar was one of Real's many chances on Tuesday, said the draw was a positive result.
"You always have to be optimistic and dream about getting through the tie," he said. "The return game is at home and in front of our own fans and we have to progress," the Spain international added.
Ramos acknowledged Lyons had been superior in the early stages of the match. "We know Olympique and they have a great team," he said. "In the first half they were more dangerous. But the [Real] team knew how to react in the second half. We passed the ball around better and created some clear chances, and there were also the doubts over the penalty."
Real's claims for a penalty when the ball appeared to strike Yoann Gourcuff's arm in the area were waved away by the referee. "Unfortunately, they [the match officials] didn't see it," defender Ricardo Carvalho said. "I don't understand it because everyone saw that it hit Gourcuff's elbow."
Pep Guardiola will coach Barcelona until the end of next season after signing a one-year contract extension yesterday. Guardiola has won eight trophies in his time with the Catalan club, who lead Real Madrid by five points in the chase for a third straight Spanish league title. Guardiola has also guided Barcelona to Champions League, Club World Cup, European Supercup, Copa del Rey triumphs and two Spanish Supercups. The financial terms of the deal were not released.
Should Guardiola see out the deal he will join Johan Cruyff, Jack Greenwell and Frank Rijkaard as the only coaches with four consecutive seasons in charge at Barcelona. "It's great news for Pep, for Barça and for us [players]," said midfielder Xavi Hernandez. "It's a very happy moment for Barcelona."
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