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Mar 2, 2013

Real's fringe players hailed for Clasico win

Real Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka praised the club's fringe players after they beat runaway La Liga leaders Barcelona 2-1 to make it two El Clasico wins in five days for Jose Mourinho's side.

The Portuguese coach made seven changes from the side that emerged victorious from the Camp Nou on Tuesday night and still gained three points.

Real overcame an almost full-strength Barcelona side thanks to goals from Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos in-between Lionel Messi's leveller for the visitors.

• Rigg: Stars rested as Real do double
• Blog: Messi v Ronaldo stats

Speaking at the post-match press conference, Karanka said: "You need all your players to deliver in a big game like this, including the ones who play less often.

"Of all the performances of the team, I was particularly impressed with those players. The team have shown that, whoever is playing, they deserve to be trusted.''

Real now go into the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Manchester United full of confidence but Karanka warned the club's players not to get too carried away as thoughts turn to Old Trafford with the match poised at 1-1.

"We have to be happy with the result but if we think we have done something extraordinary we could end up regretting it on Tuesday,'' he said.

"There's no champagne here to celebrate anything, all we'll be doing is working hard while remaining excited about the rest of the season We have to keep going in the same direction.''

Karanka explained that Madrid dealt with the pressure of having the three decisive games - the two with Barcelona and one at Manchester United - in such a short space of time by just focusing on their day-to-day work.

"We work hard every day and these games make us work even harder,'' he added. "Everyone was saying that the season could be over this week but we haven't let it affect us. We just work to make sure the team is as good as possible.''

Barcelona assistant coach Jordi Roura was happy with his team's performance, despite the defeat.

He said: "We came here to try and increase our advantage (over Madrid in the Primera Division table) and we have to be happy with the team's attitude, we stood up and were counted and had chances to win at a very difficult stadium.

"We could have got something from the game, but we are still alive and well.''

Roura did not comment on goalkeeper Victor Valdes being sent off at the final whistle for arguing with the referee, simply saying: "I went straight to the dressing room after the game and I didn't see anything.''

Roura did not complain outright about the penalty which Adriano was denied in the final minutes of the game after a challenge by Sergio Ramos, but implied he was not happy with the decision.

He said: "I don't have anything more to say about the refereeing. I spoke during the week and to me it is perfectly clear if you look at the replays.''

Barcelona are now 13 points clear of Madrid in the Primera Division table and 12 clear of Atletico Madrid, who play Malaga on Sunday.

Roura stressed the need for his team to return to winning ways and hold onto, or increase, their lead at the top from now until the end of the season.

"The important thing is now to keep trying to pick up points, we still have a significant advantage and we will try to extend it even further,'' he added.

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