Rael Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti admitted his disappointment at failing to breach the Atletico Madrid defense in their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal first-leg clash.
Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez were both twice denied by the hosts’ goalkeeper Jan Oblak as they played out a goalless draw at the Vicente Calderon on Tuesday night. Real had failed to beat their city rivals in the six meetings since their triumph over Atletico in the Champions League final last season, and they tried hard to break that run with a dominant first-half display.
But Diego Simeone’s side improved vastly after the break, although couldn’t find the net either, and the two go into the second leg all square â something Ancelotti was left disappointed by.
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"I think that in the first half we deserved more than to be 0-0 at half time," he told reporters. "We need to highlight the performance in the first half which was fantastic.
"In the second half, Atletico pressured more and the game was more even. It isn’t a brilliant result but we have confidence for the return leg, especially based on the first-half performance."
Atletico travel to Deportivo before Real face Malaga in La Liga on Saturday, with both games live on Sky Sports as Ancelotti’s men look to keep the pressure on leaders Barcelona. The two then meet again April 22 in the second leg at the Bernabeu, also live on Sky Sports.
Simeone was pleased with the way his men battled their way back into the match as Atleti’s unbeaten streak against Real this season extended to seven matches.
"I want to talk about the game and assess the change in my team from the first half to the second," Simeone told AS. "The tie is open after this result. The boys were able to react well. We talked [at halftime] about the football and what we were doing. The game is where it is. We’re against a very strong opponent and I appreciate the change in the second half. We will go forward, calmly and to an important game. But it’s all open."
Both Atletico’s Mario Suarez and Real’s Marcelo were booked in the second half, meaning they will miss the return clash. "For both teams there have been heavy casualties," Simeone added.
Atletico forward Mario Mandzukic was in the trenches, bleeding profusely after being elbowed by Sergio Ramos, and he also tangled with Dani Carvajal on more than one occasion. "The elbow was inadvertent," Simeone said. "[Mandzukic is] brave. He made a great effort and we need him."
Goal.com’s James Willoughby contributed to this report.