In a thrilling match at the Mestalla, Real Madrid lost ground on their title rivals with a 2-2 draw against Gary Neville’s Valencia. Captain Sergio Ramos was disappointed with the result, but said that the team showed immense character, and that Rafael Benitez deserves plenty of credit.
Real Madrid broke the deadlock with Karim Benzema’s goal in the 16th minute, before Dani Parejo pulled Valencia level from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time. Mateo Kovacic was given his marching orders after the Croatian lunged in with a two-footed challenge on Joao Cancelo in the second half, putting the away side in trouble with 20 minutes of normal time to go.
Despite that, Gareth Bale managed to put Real Madrid in front late on in the game, only for Paco Alcacer to cancel out the Welshman’s strike at the death.
‘Team showed character’
Ramos insists that it was always going to be a difficult task for Real Madrid once they were down to ten men, and the Spaniard believes the team showed great character.
“We went forward and they equalised at the end, with just a few minutes left. The loss of a player made us work much more, maybe because we knew we were close to victory,” the skipper said, as reported by Goal.
“We came out with great intensity, but they were able to take advantage in the last minute. When you have one player fewer, the physical exertion doubles, there’s more space and the team suffers more.
“The team has showed the character that people ask of us, that they demand from this crest.”
Under-pressure manager Rafael Benitez’s future is being speculated with every little slip-up, but Ramos suggests that the Madrid-born manager deserves a lot of credit.
“Benitez deserved credit,” Ramos added. “He is the coach and he will always have the confidence of the players.”
For how long can Benitez stay?
After the dramatic draw with Valencia, Real Madrid are placed third in the table, four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid, and two behind Barcelona, who have a game in hand.
It is highly unlikely that anyone can dethrone Barcelona this season. However, if Benitez wants to keep his job, he has to deliver either the Champions league or La Liga. Failure to do so will surely result in another sacking for the 55-year old.