Mon, Feb 19, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Madrid's Capello rips into referees as Becks sees red

AFP , MADRID AND GLASGOW

Real Madrid's David Beckham, right, fights with Real Betis' Isidoro, third left, while other players try to calm them during a Spanish League soccer match at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

Under-fire Real Madrid coach Fabio Capello took aim at Spanish referees on Saturday in the wake of the dour 0-0 draw with Real Betis which saw David Beckham red-carded.

The men in black followed in the footsteps of his own players and the club's supporters as being targeted as responsible in the eyes of the Italian coach for Real being unable to turn on the style in their Santiago Bernabeu stadium. He also blamed referee Cesar Muniz Fernandez for Beckham's red card three minutes into injury time.

"This year we have had little help from the referees. I thought it was a foul in favor of Beckham and that precipitated the red card. I've seen it [Beckham's foul] on television and I don't think it was so serious," Capello said.

After falling on the edge of the area and claiming a penalty, the former England skipper was dismissed for the fourth time in La Liga since he joined Real in 2003 after petulantly scything away the legs of Betis' Jose Isidoro.

"I'm sure that in the Bernabeu the referees don't help us," said a grim-faced Capello, who left the pitch with many Real fans calling for his dismissal.

The game was Real's first since the start of the year that had the "sold out" signs hung outside the Bernabeu ticket office.

But by the end of the dismal draw many of the capacity 80,000 crowd had drifted away.

Most of those that remained poured abuse on Capello and Real club president Ramon Calderon.

"In the Bernabeu when we play a team that puts men behind the ball and waits to counter-attack, we have difficulties. We kept going forward but when we don't win, we get whistled," Capello said.

"In the first half we did some good things but I didn't want to put [club captain] Raul on because I want him fresh for Tuesday against Bayern [in the Champions League]. In the second half we needed someone like him up front. We were the better side although they did have two clear chances," he said.

Capello leapt to the defense of his Brazilian midfielder Emerson who suffered from almost as much crowd abuse as he did himself.

"I don't understand why [Emerson was abused]. All the players need them [the fans] behind them. They seem to be against him, whistling from the time when he came onto the field and touched his first ball," he said.

With Real unable to find the net, it was not lost on Capello's audience that Ronaldo scored two goals for AC Milan on Saturday in his first start for the Italian club since his acrimonious exit from Madrid last month.

Nakamura shines

Shunsuke Nakamura's scintillating form has given Gordon Strachan reason to be optimistic about Tuesday's Champions League clash with AC Milan, but the Celtic boss is sweating on the fitness of three of his forwards for the Italians' visit to Parkhead.

Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, Craig Beattie and Kenny Miller were all left nursing injuries after a 2-1 win at Aberdeen on Saturday in which Nakamura made one goal and scored the other to leave the Hoops just three wins away from their 41st Scottish title.

Dutch striker Vennegoor of Hesselink and Beattie, who opened the scoring at Pittodrie, both had to go off in the second half while Miller gashed his head in a bizarre collision with assistant referee James Bee as he warmed up.

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