Thu, Feb 24, 2011 - Page 20 News List

Mighty Real Madrid held to 1-1 draw in Lyon’s den

MOURINHO’S LAMENT:The coach waxed philosophical about ‘acceptable’ referee errors due to fatigue versus ‘unacceptable’ errors at 5 yards with no penalty called


Chelsea’s French player Nicolas Anelka, left, vies for the ball with FC Copenhagen’s Mathias Zanka Jorgensen, right, during their Champions League round of 16 soccer match on Tuesday at the Parken Stadium in -Copenhagen. Anelka scored both goals and Chelsea won the game 2-0.

Photo: AFP

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho had harsh words for German referee Wolfgang Stark despite seeing his side secure a 1-1 draw with Lyon in the away leg of their Champions League last 16 tie on Tuesday.

Bafetimbi Gomis’ well-taken volley in the 83rd minute enabled Lyon to avoid losing to Real for the first time in seven encounters, after a Karim Benzema goal had appeared destined to consign his former club to defeat.

Benzema struck barely a minute after replacing Emmanuel Adebayor in the 64th minute, but the incident that attracted Mourinho’s ire occurred moments earlier.

Having previously hit the post with a free-kick from wide on the left, Cristiano Ronaldo saw a second attempt from an almost identical position strike the arm of Yoann Gourcuff in the Lyon wall.

Mourinho leapt from the bench to complain at Stark’s failure to award a penalty and he returned to the incident in his post-match press conference.

“It’s difficult to be a referee and there are errors in matches that are due to fatigue or slowness to react. These are the errors we have to accept,” Mourinho said.

“After, there are other errors that you can’t accept. There was a free-kick and in the slow-motion replay you can see it clearly. I was 50 yards away and I could see it. He [Stark] was 5 yards away with all his assistants and he didn’t. I don’t understand,” he said. “It could still be decisive in the tie. I just hope it won’t be.”

Despite his reservations about the referee’s performance, Mourinho conceded that Real were well placed to end a seven-year wait to make it beyond the first round of the knockout phase.

“Of course I’m hopeful, but everything is open,” he said. “Lyon are a good team with good players and a good coach. They have European experience. The second match will be hard, but it’s 1-1, we will be at home and, just as it was here, the stadium will be behind us.”

“At kick-off we will be in a strange situation because we will be almost qualified, but there will still be lots of work to do,” he said. “We won’t be scared though. We’re not afraid of history because we’re writing a new history. We scored here [Stade Gerland] for the first time and we got a draw here for the first time.”

Real made a strong start to the second half, with Sergio Ramos finding the crossbar with a header moments after Ronaldo had rattled the post, but the nine-time champions were second-best for much of the opening 45 minutes.

Lyon’s best opportunity of the first half saw Gomis shoot over an open goal after Iker Casillas had pushed away a Michel Bastos cross and Lyon coach Claude Puel lamented his side’s failure to drive home their early dominance.

“At home in the first leg, we would have preferred them not to score. It’s a bit of a shame, especially because we played a great first half,” Puel said.

“At times we were a bit lacking in the final ball, be it the final pass or the final shot. We didn’t start the second half well. We allowed them to get on top a bit too much and that coincided with a good spell for Real but after 15 minutes we got going again and finished much more strongly than them. It’s good to have competed with such a strong team, but winning the match would have been good,” he said.

“In the first half they created very few chances. We were less solid defensively at the beginning of the second half, but we were able to pull the game back at the end. It will give us confidence ahead of the return leg, even though we would obviously have preferred not to have conceded a goal to them,” Puel said.

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