Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane said he is “not going to resign” after defeat by Shakhtar Donetsk left his side’s hopes of reaching the Champions League last 16 in the balance.
The 13-time European champions are third in Group B, with all four sides still able to qualify in next week’s final round of matches. Real must beat leaders Borussia Monchengladbach to guarantee progress. “I am not going to resign, not at all,” said Zidane following the 2-0 loss. “We are always going to have difficult moments, and we are on a bad run, but we need to keep going,” added the Frenchman, whose side suffered a shock 2-1 defeat by Alaves in La Liga on Saturday. “I have the strength needed to turn the situation around and I am going to give everything to do that. So are the players. “We played well and we deserved more. We just need to lift our heads up and think about the next game.” It was Real’s second defeat by Shakhtar in this season’s competition, the Ukrainian side winning the reverse fixture 3-2 in Madrid. The Spanish champions, currently fourth in La Liga, were without injured pair Eden Hazard and captain Sergio Ramos but welcomed back talisman Karim Benzema for their return to the stadium where they were last crowned European champions in 2018. Real started well as Marco Asensio hit the post after five minutes and Benzema drew goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin into action. Trubin then tipped over from Asensio’s powerful shot before half-time and again denied Benzema, before Dentinho and Manor Solomon struck in the second half for Shakhtar. Dentinho pounced on Raphael Varane’s error after 57 minutes and, rather than retreat, Shakhtar were reward for pursuing a second eight minutes from time when Solomon found the bottom corner. Shakhtar had not scored in three group games since their opening victory over Real and conceded a total of 10 goals in heavy back-to-back defeats by Monchengladbach. But their superior head-to-head record over Real means Shakhtar occupy second place in the group, one point behind Monchengladbach heading into a dramatic final round. Zidane’s side have struggled for consistency this season and the lacklustre defeat by Alaves extended their winless domestic run to three matches. Real endured a nightmare start to their European campaign as they followed up their humiliating defeat by a second-string Shakhtar side with a 2-2 draw away to Monchengladbach, courtesy of a dramatic late fightback. Consecutive wins against Inter Milan looked to have rescued the La Liga side, but another famous victory for Luis Castro’s side has blown qualification for the knockout stages wide open. Four victories in their past 11 games in all competitions represents a concerning run of form for Zidane’s men, who sit seven points adrift of leaders Real Sociedad in Spain, albeit with a game in hand. They now face the prospect of an unthinkable early exit from Europe’s elite club competition heading into their final group match against Monchengladbach next Wednesday. But crucially, following Monchengladbach’s defeat by Inter, Zidane’s side are in control of their destiny as they eye a last 16 place for a record-extending 24th consecutive season.