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No Margin of Error for Real Madrid

May 07, 2003|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

Defending champion Real Madrid retained only a tenuous hold on the European Champions Cup on Tuesday when it eked out a 2-1 victory over Juventus in the first match of a two-game semifinal series.

Worse yet for Real fans in the crowd of 75,000 at Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu stadium, the Italian team scored a potentially decisive away goal, striker Ronaldo suffered a calf injury and the winning goal was controversial.

First, the away goal. It was scored one minute before halftime by French forward David Trezeguet, and it means that all Juventus has to do to advance to the final is defeat Real Madrid, 1-0, in Turin, Italy, in the return game on May 14, because the goal it scored on the road would then be the tiebreaker.

Second, Ronaldo. The Brazilian star gave Real Madrid the lead with a goal in the 23rd minute but left Tuesday's match five minutes into the second half, complaining that a first-half tackle had left him with a calf injury. The seriousness of the injury was not revealed.

Finally, the controversy. It arose when Real Madrid defender Roberto Carlos fired a 20-yard shot through a crowd of players into the back of the net in the 73rd minute to secure the victory.

The linesman had flagged three Madrid players for being offside, but Norwegian referee Terje Hauge consulted briefly with him and then allowed the goal to stand.

"The referee deemed that the players were not interfering with play," Juventus Coach Marcello Lippi said. "There is nothing more to be said."

There may be in Turin next week if there's a similar controversy.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid Coach Vicente Del Bosque was terse in his assessment of the match.

"We would have been flattered by a bigger win," he said.

The first game of the other Champions Cup semifinal will be played today in Milan by the city's two great rivals, AC Milan and Inter Milan.

Galaxy Foes

The Galaxy is the defending champion of Major League Soccer but will get the real test of its ability in July when it plays three of the world's leading teams in the inaugural World Peace King Cup in South Korea.

The draw for the eight-team event was held in Seoul, and Los Angeles was drawn to play AS Roma of Italy, PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands and Sao Paolo of Brazil in the group stage.

The other group will feature Bayer Leverkusen of Germany, the Kaizer Chiefs of South Africa, Olympique Lyon of France and Seongnam Ilwa of South Korea.

The tournament will be held July 15-22, the group winners facing each other for the title and the $2 million that goes along with it.

Beckham Speaks

After remaining silent while rumors swirled around him regarding a possible move from Manchester United to Real Madrid, David Beckham finally spoke out, denying, more or less, that he is going anywhere.

"I want to stay at United," he told the Manchester Evening News.

"My feelings for Manchester United, the club itself, the players, the fans and the back-room staff, are as strong as ever.

"There has been lots of stuff in the media about me and my future, but I can honestly say that there has been no contact between either me or my advisor, with Real Madrid, or any other club."

Quick Passes

Ferencvaros, which leads the Hungarian league, got two goals from Attila Tokoli as it defeated Debreceni VSC, 2-1, to win the Hungarian Cup.

Midfielder Carlos Gurpegi of Athletic Bilbao was suspended for two years by the Spanish soccer federation after testing positive for high levels of the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone.

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