Evans hails Millers’ character
Assistant coach Aitor Karanka was delighted with the
performances of Real Madrid’s fringe players after their 2-1 win
over Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu.
First-team coach Jose Mourinho made seven changes from the side
that beat the Catalans 3-1 on Tuesday at the Camp Nou in the Copa
But Madrid 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.
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.”
However, Karanka warned his players against being complacent
after the consecutive victories over their biggest rivals, ahead of
Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg encounter at
“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 us 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
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
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.
The Shrimpers were denied a crucial victory when Johnny Mullins
cancelled out Kevan Hurst’s opener two minutes from time to
“We had the chances to win the game but we didn’t take them,”
said the Scotsman.
“Four players should all have scored and when you consider
that’s against a team going for third in the table that’s quite
“But to concede like we did at the end was disappointing. We
should have defended much better and in the end this feels far more
like a defeat than a draw.
“We’re now six points away from the play-offs but there’s still
about a quarter of the season to go.
“There are plenty of points to play for and many of the teams
still have to play each other so there’s everything still to play
“However, we really do need to get on a good run.”
Johnny Mullins cancelled out Kevan Hurst’s opener when he fired
home at the back post after a goalmouth scramble, a result Evans
felt they deserved.
“I thought for an hour we were simply outstanding,” said Evans.
“In the first half we were the dominant side which is hard to be
here at Roots Hall.
“We opened them up time after time and we could’ve executed some
situations better before they scored a wonder strike through Kevan
“After that, the substitutes I brought on inspired us to get the
point and we showed a lot of passion and character which is
excellent to see.
“I didn’t think it was going to be our day but we got some
dangerous balls into the box which in the end gave us the
“It is another game on our quest for promotion and I believe we
have the team here capable to get up.”