No ex­cuses for Madrid de­spite Bale dis­missal

New Straits Times - - Sport - AFP

MADRID: Real Madrid coach Zine­dine Zi­dane in­sisted his side had no one to blame but them­selves de­spite Gareth Bale’s red card in a thrilling 3-3 draw at home to Las Pal­mas on Wed­nes­day.

Madrid looked set for a first home league de­feat in a year as Las Pal­mas took ad­van­tage of Bale’s dis­missal early in the sec­ond-half to lead 3-1 with just three min­utes re­main­ing.

How­ever, Cris­tiano Ron­aldo’s dou­ble sal­vaged a draw and keeps Real just a point adrift of league lead­ers Barcelona with a game in hand.

“We can’t look for ex­cuses,” said Zi­dane.

“What we can do is im­prove our per­for­mance. We are not happy with how we are play­ing.

“There are mo­ments in the sea­son like this. The past three or four games things haven’t gone as we would want, but we are not go­ing to look for ex­cuses in the ref­er­ees.”

Bale’s first red card since join­ing Madrid for a then world record fee in 2013 came with the scores level at 1-1 as Tana can­celled out Isco’s opener for Real in­side the open­ing 10 min­utes.

The Welsh­man kicked out at Jonathan Viera twice be­fore fi­nally push­ing the Las Pal­mas mid­fielder to the ground.

“He has apol­o­gised. He is not happy with the send­ing-off,” added Zi­dane.

Madrid vice-cap­tain Marcelo said Bale is aware his mo­ment of mad­ness had badly let his team­mates down.

“I am not one to give him a clip round the ear, that is what I do to my chil­dren,” said the Brazil­ian.

“Bale is old enough to know if he has made a mis­take or not.

“These things hap­pen in foot­ball, but hope­fully it doesn’t hap­pen again be­tween now and the end of the sea­son.”

In a re­cur­ring theme of Madrid’s sea­son, a stun­ning late ef­fort un­did a lot of the dam­age caused by a be­low-par dis­play.

The Euro­pean champions trailed Vil­lar­real 2-0 on Sun­day be­fore a rous­ing fight­back in the fi­nal 25 min­utes sealed a 3-2 win.

How­ever, hav­ing also lost 2-1 at Va­len­cia last week af­ter con­ced­ing twice in the first 10 min­utes, Zi­dane in­sisted Los Blan­cos can’t al­ways leave them­selves with a moun­tain to climb.

“We can’t go over the top. There are things we have done well this year, but we have to an­a­lyse it and we will change things,” added the French­man.

“We have shown we have char­ac­ter and we can do more. We have to im­prove par­tic­u­larly in our first-half per­for­mances.

“We have to think about the pos­i­tives. We will an­a­lyse the neg­a­tives, but to come back from 1-3 to 3-3 is a huge ef­fort.”

On the same night that Barcelona coach Luis En­rique an­nounced he will not con­tinue next sea­son, the Cata­lans have the fate of the ti­tle in their own hands for the first time in months.

A 6-1 thrash­ing of Sport­ing Gi­jon ear­lier on Wed­nes­day saw Barca leapfrog Madrid into top spot and the two sides are still to meet at Real’s San­ti­ago Bern­abeu in April.

How­ever, Zi­dane re­jected sug­ges­tions Madrid are in dan­ger of throw­ing the ti­tle away.

“We are go­ing to fight. When there were good mo­ments and we were lead­ers, I al­ways said we would have dif­fi­cult mo­ments.

“We are not lead­ers, but the league is still open and we are not go­ing to give up.

“You win leagues at the end (of the sea­son) not now.”


Real Madrid's Gareth Bale (left) is re­strained by team­mate Na­cho Fer­nan­dez as he tries to con­front the ref­eree on Wed­nes­day.

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