The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Real keep fingers crossed

Madrid: Real Madrid coach Vicente del Bosque said he believed his side was unfortunate to only take a 2-1 victory away from their Champions League semi-final, first leg match against Juventus Tuesday.

“It was a good match between two very strong sides,” he said. “We played very well in the first half, had control of the ball and played well on the flanks. It was just a shame that we conceded a goal late in the first half.

“In the end a 2-1 win has left us with a bit of a bad taste in the mouth as I think on the basis of our play we deserved a more comfortable win.”

Real took control after a cagey first quarter and grabbed the lead after 23 minutes. They appeared to have Juventus on the ropes before a lapse in concentration in defence just before the break allowed the Italians to get back on level terms.

“Their equaliser took some of our strength away,” admitted Del Bosque. “At the start of the second half it was true that they had a bit more control of the game, but we managed to regain control and finished the game playing quite well.

“It is clear that it is difficult to win a tie in the first leg when you are talking about two teams of this calibre,” said the Real coach. “At the moment we have the advantage, but of course the tie will now be decided in Turin.”

However, Zinedine Zidane said his team is confident of reaching the final. “The important thing was to win. The second leg will be tough, but we know that we are capable of scoring anywhere. You can’t say that a one-goal lead is decisive, but we do have an important advantage.”

“Our second goal came just at the right moment,” said Zidane. “We had lost some of our rhythm for 20 minutes or so...but we reacted well and we deserved to score more goals towards the end of the match.”

Defender Michel Salgado said he felt Juve had been fortunate to get a valuable away goal. “The result didn’t do us justice,” he said. “Given the great job we had done in the first half it was disappointing to go into the break at 1-1. After we scored our second we deserved to get a third, while they had a lot of luck in their goal.

Not crying foul

Juventus coach Marcello Lippi refused to get drawn into any criticism of the referee. Three Real Madrid players were off-side when Roberto Carlos cracked in the what turned out to be the winner. The linesman raised his flag but Norwegian referee Terje Hauge let the goal stand.

“It was the referee’s decision,” Lippi shrugged at his post-match conference. “I wouldn’t want to get into any debate. The linesman put his flag up as he saw three players in an off-side position. “Unfortunately, the referee interpreted that they were not interfering with play. That is his personal judgement.”

Juventus defender Lilian Thuram also accepted the decision, saying the referee was probably correct in his reading of the situation. “I think it was a goal,” Thuram said. “None of the three off-side players was blocking Buffon’s vision.”

Carlos said he doubted whether the Real players were interfering with play. “No, I don’t think so,” the Brazilian said. “It was a valid goal. The shot went straight in.”

Lippi said his side remained confident of reaching the final, despite the first leg setback. “We played very well in the second half and I have great confidence that we can turn this around in the second leg.

“We’ll have to be alert to Real Madrid’s attacking ability and make sure we don’t concede a goal but in general I think it will be a similar game in the return.”

Juventus striker David Trezeguet says the away goal he scored gives the Italian champions a genuine chance to progress to the final of the Champions League. “We showed to ourselves that we can knock out this Real Madrid. The goal that I scored has left us with some serious hope and this result has a precious psychological value,” said Trezeguet.

“I hope that is a good sign for us and that we can repeat that achievement,” Antonio Conte said.

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