Unbeaten in 34 but angry

Dortmund midfielder Marco Reus (right) scores an 88th-minute equaliser during the Champions League match against holders Real Madrid to earn the German side a 2-2 draw and top spot in Group F.
Dortmund midfielder Marco Reus (right) scores an 88th-minute equaliser during the Champions League match against holders Real Madrid to earn the German side a 2-2 draw and top spot in Group F.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Zidane hits out at Real players for losing lead and top spot despite historic night for club

MADRID • Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane criticised his players for switching off against Borussia Dortmund and throwing away a two-goal lead that cost the European champions top place in Champions League Group F on Wednesday.

Just as in Dortmund in September, Real conceded a late goal to draw 2-2 with Thomas Tuchel's side, although they still equalled a club record 34-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

Karim Benzema scored in each half to put Real in a comfortable position to win the group, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang responded and Marco Reus levelled in the 88th minute.

"When you see how the second half went, you get a bit angry. We had the game in our hands but this is football. You need to carry on right until the end," Zidane said.

"We created a lot of chances to score the third goal. Instead, we allowed Dortmund back into the game. Dortmund deserved first place. They demonstrated how strong they are."

Real failed to finish top of their group for the first time since 2012-13, when they also came second to Dortmund.

DON'T WANT DATE WITH THE OLD LADY

I don't want to get Juventus for two reasons, but there's nothing we can do about that.

ZINEDINE ZIDANE , Real Madrid manager and former Juventus star, hopes to avoid drawing the Italian champions in the last 16 of the Champions League .

Finishing second could yet prove to be a blessing for Real, who will avoid fellow runners-up Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain as well as fellow Spanish clubs Atletico Madrid and Barcelona in Monday's round-of-16 draw.

However, they could meet Zidane's former side Juventus.

"I haven't thought about the draw. I wanted us to finish top and we did everything to do that. We'll see who we get on Monday," the Frenchman said.

"I don't want to get Juventus for two reasons, but there's nothing we can do about that."

Zidane did not clarify what his "two reasons" were but it is presumed that he would want to avoid the club he played for from 1996-2001 for sentimental reasons.

It is also believed that he considers Juventus as the biggest threat ahead of Real's other possible last-16 opponents - Leicester City, Arsenal, Monaco and Napoli.

Zidane also praised Benzema for becoming the sixth player to score 50 Champions League goals and paid tribute to his players for matching Leo Beenhakker's side's run of 34 games without defeat in 1989-90.

"For any player it's important to score and I'm very happy with Benzema, his goals, his work and the team's work. He's happy and we're happy with him and the run goes on," the 44-year-old said.

"I have to congratulate the players because they're the ones that fight and work so hard. Our aim is to keep this run going, because there's still a long way to go in the season."

Tuchel insisted the dramatic nature of the game showed there had been no pact to settle for a draw.

"We didn't do some tactical calculation," said the German.

"We can have no influence in the draw, but against any opponents we will play to our limit to reach the next stage."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2016, with the headline 'Unbeaten in 34 but angry'. Print Edition | Subscribe