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Nov, 28, 2012

Mourinho endures mixed reception

As Real Madrid eased through to the last 16 of the Copa del Rey with a 3-0 win over Alcoyano at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday, conflicting opinions among the club's support regarding their side's current form were being played out inside the ground.

• Blog: Mourinho cups still half full
• Blog: Adios to La Liga?

Late goals from Angel di Maria and Jose Callejon (two) sealed a 7-1 aggregate win over third tier Alcoyano for an uninspiring Madrid side, but some of the night's more interesting exchanges took place in the stands.

With the game still scoreless early in the second half, ultras in the Bernabeu's Fondo Sur began to chant Mourinho's name and were answered with whistles from the ground's three other sides.

When this was repeated later in the game, the so-called more committed fans behind the south goal reacted with chants of "Antimadridistas!" and "Mourinho, only you defend the team", aimed at blancos supporters uncomfortable with both the coach's abrasive public style and his team's rocky form so far this season.

The Portuguese decided against speaking to the press after the match, but his assistant Aitor Karanka said criticism from fans was part of the game and did not affect coaches who were doing their job.

"The fans come to the stadium and have the right to express themselves," said Karanka. "The coaching staff just have to do their work. There will be people who like the coach and people who do not. What is clear that he is a professional. You hear a lot of things on the bench, but I do not talk about chants. I can just repeat that Mourinho gives everything for Real Madrid."

Madrid's traditionalists would have been happy with the decision to include six home-grown canteranos in the starting XI, including Nacho Fernandez, 20, at left-back, Jose Rodriguez, 17, in central midfield, Denis Cheryshev, 21, on the left wing and Alvaro Morata, 20, up front.

Karanka praised Rodriguez, who outshone Luka Modric in midfield, and Cheryshev, who was less impressive, after the game.

"Jose Rodríguez did not surprise us," he said. "He played very well. Cheryshev is progressing well. In his two years here he has come on a lot, he has matured and is among those who have grown the most. With his age, his future is fabulous."

Less happy news from the game was an ankle injury to back-up defender Raul Albiol suffered inside the first minute. The Spanish international will have more tests on Wednesday, but initial reports suggested he could face up to a month on the sidelines.

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