Zizou won’t throw in towel

Zizou won’t throw in towel

KIEV • Zinedine Zidane rubbished suggestions he could walk away from Real Madrid and said the Spanish champions did not deserve to lose 2-0 to Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday.

It was their second defeat by the Ukrainians this season, diminishing their hopes of reaching the Champions League last 16.

Substitutes Dentinho and Manor Solomon scored second-half goals in Kiev as Shakhtar stunned the 13-time European champions again, having won 3-2 in Madrid in October.

Shakhtar had lost their last two Group B matches against Borussia Monchengladbach by an aggregate score of 10-0, but this victory allowed them to move above Real into second place with one game remaining.

Gladbach lead Shakhtar (seven points) by a point and have the upper hand on Real (also seven) thanks to their superior head-to-head record.

However, Inter Milan’s 3-2 win in Germany not only kept the Italians’ (five) hopes alive, but also limited the damage for Real, who now know a home win over the Germans next week will take them through, regardless of how Shakhtar fare in their last game.

Real have made it out of their group every year since 1997. Failure to progress would be seen as a disaster, but Zidane said he would not leave the club he has led to three Champions League and two La Liga titles in two spells as coach.

“I am not going to resign, not at all,” he said.

“We are always going to have difficult moments, and we are on a bad run, but we need to keep going.”

The Frenchman, whose team also lost at the weekend, going down 2-1 at home to Alaves in La Liga, added: “I have the strength needed to turn the situation around and I am going to give everything to do that, so are the players.

“We played well and we deserved more. We just need to lift our heads up and think about the next game.”

Real were returning to the scene of their victory over Liverpool in the 2018 final, but they looked a shadow of their former selves in the cold of Kiev’s Olympic Stadium, and the result underlined the loss of talisman Sergio Ramos.

This was Real’s seventh defeat in the last nine Champions League matches they have played without their injured skipper.

GIVING THEIR ALL

We are on a bad run, but we need to keep going. I have the strength needed to turn the situation around and I am going to give everything to do that, so are the players.

ZINEDINE ZIDANE, Real Madrid coach.

The game may have turned out differently had Marco Asensio scored in the fifth minute rather than turn Karim Benzema’s cross onto the post.

But instead they slumped to a third loss in five matches.

Real midfielder Luka Modric said the players were feeling low but backed his team to progress.

“It’s difficult to explain what is happening to us right now, we are in a very difficult situation, but we still have one game left and we’re going to do everything to win it,” he said.

“Real Madrid have always shown who we are when we need to win but we need to do our talking on the pitch now.”

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS