Mon, Nov 17, 2008 - Page 18 News List

LFP : Valladolid add to Real’s woes

FINAL NAIL IN THe COFFIN?After being thrashed 6-0 by Barcelona last week, Valladolid increased the pressure on Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster with their 1-0 victory

AFP , MADRID

Real Madrid’s Raul Gonzalez, top, jumps over Real Valladolid goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo during their Spanish La Liga match at the Jose Zorrila Stadium in Valladolid, Spain, on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

Managers don’t last long at Real Madrid and German coach Bernd Schuster could be heading for the exit door after the Spanish champions fell to a 1-0 defeat at Valladolid on Saturday.

The same Valladolid had been crushed 6-0 by Barcelona last weekend and before the game sections of the Spanish media were saying that this could be Schuster’s last game if Real lost. That is just what happened as Uruguayan striker Nestor Canobbio struck a 48th minute winner with an unstoppable left-footed drive.

With two recent Champions League losses to Juventus and the midweek Spanish Cup embarrassment to minnows Real Union, Schuster had been under extreme pressure and the Valladolid loss could be the final nail in his coffin, although Schuster didn’t see it that way.

DIFFICULT TIMES

“I am calm. We are working toward what we want to do and I am focused on my job,” Schuster said. “It is a difficult time at the moment, but we had a similar situation last season. The result is obviously bad for us and we shouldn’t lose, but that is football. They didn’t really create a chance in the first half, but when half a chance came along they took it well. We certainly didn’t deserve to lose.”

Schuster won the league title in his debut season, but it is now up to the Real board to see if they want to extend his 16-month spell at the Santiago Bernabeu. Real have now won just once in their last six matches in all competitions and the double league champions stay fourth, two points behind leaders Barcelona who have a game in hand.

Without the creative Dutch duo of Ruud van Nistelrooy and Arjen Robben, both out injured, Raul and Gonzalo Higuain started in attack for Real, with the latter hoping to build on his four goals against Malaga last weekend.

FEARING A BACKLASH

Valladolid were whacked 6-0 by Barcelona last time out and must have feared a Real backlash, but Jose Garcia Calvo almost put the hosts ahead with a 12th minute header that was cleared off the goal line by alert Brazilian defender Marcelo.

Higuain then showed a great turn of pace to race clear, only to be thwarted by the goalkeeper.

At halftime it was scoreless, with Schuster cutting a glum figure in the dug-out, but the clean sheet was a bonus when you consider that Real had leaked six goals in their last two matches.

But three minutes into the second half Valladolid took the lead after a poor pass from Guti gifted them possession and Canobbio rifled in past the helpless Iker Casillas. Casillas last kept a clean sheet back on Sept. 21 in a 2-0 win over Racing Santander, underlining Real’s defensive frailties.

Higuain and Wesley Sneijder both went close, but captain Raul squandered the best chance with three minutes left, shooting at the legs of goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo.

SURPRISE DEFEAT

It was a great day for Barcelona with Valencia falling to a surprise 3-2 home defeat to Sporting Gijon in Saturday’s late game.

Valencia could have gone top with a victory, but goals from Luis Moran (19 minutes) and David Barral (51 minutes) gave them an uphill task. David Villa scored his 11th goal of the season from the penalty spot to get his team back in the game, but Diego Castro made it 3-1 in the 83rd minute and it proved crucial as Juan Mata scored late on for the hosts.

“We are conceding too many goals at home and this is something we have to cut out,” Villa said.

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