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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov, 2, 2006

Qualification is everything, insist Real

MADRID, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Real Madrid are in the last 16 of the Champions League and that is all that counts, the players said after Steaua Bucharest's Banel Nicolita scored an own goal to give the Spanish team a 1-0 win.

'The important thing is that we have won and we have qualified for the next stage. Although the stats show it was an own goal that gave us victory, we created plenty of other chances to score,' Real striker Raul said after Wednesday's game.

The result guaranteed Real second place at least in Group E with nine points from four games, three behind leaders Olympique Lyon and six ahead of Steaua, with two games left.

The nine-times European champions beat Steaua 4-1 away two weeks ago but it was a different story in the Bernabeu as Real struggled to impose themselves.

Poor finishing, including a missed penalty from Ruud van Nistelrooy, meant that all that separated the sides at the end was the visiting midfielder's second-half own goal, when he rolled a back pass wide of his own keeper into an empty net.

'Obviously we didn't put on much of a spectacle, scoring lots of goals, but we controlled the game and they didn't have many sights of our goal,' Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas said.

'We created enough chances to have won without their gift. We can't be playing that badly because we are near the top in the league, are in the next stage of the Champions League and in the King's Cup.'

While Raul and Casillas defended the side's performance, Guti said the goal had been a touch fortuitous.

'It was one of the those nights when it didn't matter how many chances you created, you weren't going to score.

'If they hadn't scored in their own net it would have ended goalless, but luck was with us,' he said.

While the players celebrated the effectiveness of their side's performance, it was Real's president Ramon Calderon who reminded them of the need to provide some entertainment for the fans.

'Let's hope we can score more goals against Celta Vigo in the league on Sunday so that the fans can enjoy themselves a little more,' he said.


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