Mon, Feb 05, 2018 - Page 11 News List

Zidane livid as defense costs Madrid

Reuters, MADRID

Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas, bottom, fails to stop a shot from Levante UD’s Jefferson Lerma on Saturday during their match in Valencia, Spain.

Photo: EPA

Real Madrid’s season has lurched from one disappointment to another over the past few months and the mood at the club was further soured by a 2-2 La Liga draw on Saturday at Levante UD, a result that left coach Zinedine Zidane “disgusted.”

Zidane’s side twice threw away the lead with Giampaolo Pazzini’s 89th minute equalizer earning Levante a point and leaving the defending champions fourth in the standings, 18 points behind arch rivals and leaders Barcelona.

Madrid started the year poorly, but consecutive league wins over RC Deportivo de La Coruna and Valencia had given Zidane hope that his team might be turning a corner, until they slipped up again against a hard-working Levante.

The coach was furious that his team made two defensive errors that led to both Levante goals, the first converted by Emmanuel Boateng before Pazzini’s late intervention.

Madrid captain Sergio Ramos broke the deadlock, but then played Jose Luis Morales onside in the build up to Levante’s first equalizer three minutes before halftime.

Then, forward Pazzini, a deadline day loan signing from Verona, was allowed to charge between Dani Carvajal and Raphael Varane to score on his debut after Isco had restored Madrid’s advantage.

“I’m disgusted with the result; it’s hard to take,” Zidane said. “After our second goal we had to control the ball, nothing else, and defensively we were not good.”

“The truth is the game was under control and we had done the hard part, which is scoring. We scored the second, 2-1, but we made two errors and they scored two goals against us,” he added.

Madrid have now conceded in each of their past six league games and shipped a total of 25 goals, more than twice as many as Barcelona (10) and Atletico Madrid (9).

With Madrid eliminated from the King’s Cup, the only trophy they can realistically win is the Champions League, in which they have a tricky last-16 tie against Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) to negotiate.

Midfielder Casemiro is adamant that Madrid cannot continue to defend so poorly if they wish to defend their European crown.

“We made two errors and we let in two goals — that’s football,” Casemiro said. “We have to think game-by-game, but it’s clear we can’t make those mistakes against PSG.”

Madrid on Wednesday next week is to host PSG at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg of their Champions League showdown.

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