Result: Real Madrid 1 AS Roma 2 (Roma progress as 4-2 agg. winners)
Real Madrid went out of the Champions League at the first round knockout stage last night, for the fourth time in four seasons, after their opponents AS Roma registered an historic 2-1 win at the Bernabeu....
The visiting side were considered the underdogs by many, despite winning the first leg 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome a fortnight ago. Last night's encounter was a fairly open affair but one that failed to produce any goals until the 71st minute dismissal of Pepe. Both sides seemed to be sparked in to life following the red card and it was Roma who seized the initiative with Taddei heading the visitors in front just two minutes later.
Madrid were roused in to a response and several minutes captain Raul Gonzalez levelled for the home side. However, as the men in white pushed on for the second goal that they required to take the match in to extra time, they left themselves increasingly vulnerable at the back: always dangerous against Italian opposition. Madrid's hopes were dashed in added time, when Panucci delivered a free kick in to the box that found an unmarked Vučinić who struck the ball past a helpless Casillas to ensure that Roma go through to the quater finals for the second successive season.
Madrid created chances throughout the match, with Guti and Robinho always the most threatening and creative. However, the home side never really looked as if this was their night and it has left many Madrid commentators growing increasingly concerned that Madrid will surrender their position at the top of La Liga in a similar toothless fashion.
Faced with an increasingly hostile Spanish media after the match, Schuster refused to acknowledge his side's deficiencies and, in what is becoming an alarming trend, insisted that defeat was the resposnibility of all but himself and his charges.
Schuster said " We had no luck tonight. My players did everything they could and I must congratulate them. We had smart opponents in front of us. Some people thought that AS Roma were not serious opponents for Real Madrid but they have shown that was a big mistake. We dominated until going 1-0 down and we could have scored a second goal but it was difficult. Pepe's red card and the injury to Salgado were keys to this match".
Schusteres hostility toward the press, coupled with a perceived lack of humility, is starting to manifest itself in negative headlines in the local sports papers and the task ahead fo Schuster is clearly defined: he must win the La Liga title and he will need to restore confidence in, and within his side quickly, starting against Espanyol this weekend.