Football: Real coach Ancelotti salutes fighting spirit after comeback win

Real Madrid's win against Valencia took them to the top of the La Liga standings.
Real Madrid's win against Valencia took them to the top of the La Liga standings.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

VALENCIA (REUTERS) - Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti praised his side for refusing to give in even when they were playing poorly, with his side snatching a 2-1 La Liga win at Valencia after scoring two late goals on Sunday (Sept 19).

Valencia took the lead in the second half with a strike from Hugo Duro, but Vinicius Junior levelled in the 86th minute before sending in a cross for Karim Benzema to head the visitors in front two minutes later.

Real also pulled off a last-gasp victory in the Champions League by beating Inter Milan with an 89th-minute goal from Rodrygo four days earlier. As a result, they have now scored six goals in the final five minutes in five games in all competitions this season.

"I have a team that scrap and fight whether they are playing well or playing badly," Ancelotti said.

"We didn't beat them thanks to our quality, we did it thanks to our indomitable spirit. We kept going right until the end."

The win took Real to the top of the standings on 13 points, two ahead of city rivals Atletico, but Ancelotti believes his side are still far from their best.

"We have quite a young team and I'll be the first person to admit we're not playing spectacular football at the moment," he said.

"We didn't play well in the first half, we attacked well on the break but we were pegged back a lot and when you sit too deep it's easy to concede goals."

The defeat was hard to digest for Valencia coach Jose Bordalas, whose side overcame first-half injuries to Carlos Soler and Thierry Correia and had dominated the game until Real's late fightback.

"We're sad because the team made an incredible effort after the problems we had with Carlos and Correia," said the Spaniard, whose side are in third on 10 points.

"We did exactly what we wanted to do and played much better than them, pressing them high and controlling the game. We played 75 perfect minutes but we couldn't afford to drop our concentration for even a second.

"We were a little unlucky, but we should have managed the last few minutes better. We didn't read the game well and ended up paying for our mistakes."

Title rivals Barcelona are six points adrift of Real in 10th place, having played two fewer games, but coach Ronald Koeman said he is not worried about his future despite criticism in the wake of last week's 3-0 drubbing by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

"The only thing is to think about the game, think about the team," said the 58-year-old whose side face Granada at the Nou Camp on Monday.

"The other things are not in my hands."

Barcelona were outclassed by Bayern in last Tuesday's group match, failing to register a single shot on target over the 90 minutes, but Koeman was confident his injury-ravaged team would return to winning ways.

"So I'm calm, I'm trusting that we are going to win games as we did at the beginning of the season. We have seven points from three games, so there are a lot of games to go. I know, in the end, the results count and nothing else. And I have no fear for my future. Ultimately, the president decides on behalf of the club."

Barcelona will be without Ousmane Dembele, Martin Braithwaite, Pedri, Jordi Alba, Sergio Aguero and Ansu Fati for Monday's match.