La Liga - Real leave it late at Auxerre

Tue, 28 Sep 21:57:00 2010

Real Madrid kept their 100 per cent record in Champions League Group G thanks to Angel Di Maria's late goal in a 1-0 win at Auxerre.

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Di Maria grabbed the winner with 10 minutes remaining to send Madrid to the top of the group.

A long ball from the right-hand side by Alvaro Arbeloa was angled into the penalty area and Auxerre captain Benoit Pedretti fell asleep at the far post allowing Di Maria to sneak in, chest the ball down and volley into the bottom right-hand corner.

It could have been very different two minutes before when Pepe bizarrely headed an Alain Traore cross against his own post with Iker Casillas a bemused spectator.

Madrid had several chances to seal the win in the second-half before Di Maria's late show.

Gonzalo Higuain was inches away from a Di Maria cross and Cristiano Ronaldo sent a header from six yards over the crossbar.

The hosts started brightly and could have scored after only four minutes. Kenyan striker Dennis Oliech chased a long, hopeful ball over the top of the Real Madrid defence. Pepe could not keep pace with him and Casillas came out to clear the danger but the goalkeeper could only strike the ball against the on-rushing forward and watched with relief as the ball beat Oliech over the goal line.

The away side did not have to wait long before they worked an opportunity.

Xabi Alonso was the creator before the ball found its way to Lassana Diarra. The midfielder moved the ball out of his feet before striking an effort narrowly wide of Olivier Sorin's right-hand post.

Shortly afterwards Argentine Higuain produced the moment of the half.

Ronaldo's corner was flicked on by Sami Khedira. It fell to Higuain and he delightfully dragged the ball back deceiving Stéphane Grichting. The forward shot towards goal, beating Sorin, but Kamel Chafni was on hand to clear the ball off the line.

Auxerre's Delvin Ndinga also saw a header drift past the far post and with 10 minutes to the break Marcelo could only volley Alonso's 50-yard pass straight at Sorin from 16 yards out.

Auxerre had a great chance to go ahead after an hour. Ireneusz Jelen was put clean through by Pedretti but the forward could only shot weakly wide from 22 yards and that ultimately proved costly.

In the other game in Group G, Ajax drew 1-1 with AC Milan. Real Madrid next face Milan at home on October 19 while Auxerre travel to Ajax. 

Mark Applin / Eurosport

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