Print Edition - 2018-01-26 | Sports
Zidane takes blame for Real humiliating loss
Jan 26, 2018-
Real Madrid crashed to a humiliating Copa del Rey exit on Wednesday when they were knocked out by little Leganes in the quarter-finals with under-fire coach Zinedine Zidane taking the blame.
European champions Real lost 2-1 in the second leg at their Bernabeu home as the tie finished 2-2 on aggregate with their modest city neighbours going through on away goals despite having lost the first leg 1-0 last week. “I am responsible for all of this. It’s a failure for me,” said Zidane who recently penned a contract extension until 2020.
Admitting that it had been his worst night as a coach, the Frenchman added: “It’s a logical result, our opponents played their match and we did not. It is a big blow. We did what we had to do in the first leg. Nobody expected this, especially me but this is football. I am the manager. I picked the team and I was wrong in many regards. It’s up to me to find the solutions. I will continue to fight, to work, to battle and to find the things the team needs.”
Javi Eraso gave Leganes a 32nd-minute lead with a spectacular curling shot from long range. Karim Benzema levelled on the night after 47 minutes thanks to a pass from Lucas Vazquez but Brazilian striker Gabriel Pires then hit the winner with a firm header eight minutes later.
It was a depressing evening for Zinedine Zidane’s side who, despite being in the Champions League last 16 where they face Paris Saint-Germain in three weeks’
time, are 19 points behind Barcelona in the Spanish title race.
Leganes have a budget of just 45 million euros—15 times less than the 675 million euros commanded by mighty Real. Even without Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, who were rested on Wednesday after starring in the 7-1 rout of Deportivo La Coruna at the weekend, Real should still have had enough firepower for a side languishing in 13th spot in La Liga.
In the night’s other game, Valencia made the semi-finals but needed a 3-2 penalty shootout to defeat Alaves, who won 2-1 for a 3-3 aggregate.
Copa del rey results
Real 1-2 Leganes (Leganes win on away goals after 2-2 on agg)
Alaves 2-1 Valencia (Valencia win 3-2 on penalties after 3-3 on agg)
Published: 26-01-2018 09:23