Featuring for Real Madrid on native soil, France international forward KARIM BENZEMA (yellow boots) is shadowed by Poland international defender DARIUSZ DUDKA (5) of AJ Auxerre at the Stade de l’Abbe Deschamps in Burgundy, France. (Reuters photo)
UEFA Champions League
0 – AJ Auxerre (FRA)
1 – Real Madrid (SPA) ———– Di Maria 81′
Despite dominating time of possession and doubling the opponents attempts to score, the visiting stars of REAL MADRID still needed a goal inside the final ten minutes to subdue a stubborn French side AJ AUXERRE 1-0 in Group G of the UEFA Champions League.
Argentina World Cup midfielder ANGEL DI MARIA, who came on to man the wing in JOSE MOURINHO’s team for the final quarter of an hour, proved to be the difference-maker; the off-season acquisition from traditional Portuguese powerhouse Benfica Lisbon controlled a cross from Portugal World Cup defender PEPE and calmly stroked home the winning goal with less than ten minutes to play in the game.
Unlucky, then, for AJ Auxerre goalkeeper OLIVIER SORIN, who had a solid game between the sticks for the French hosts and registered five saves.
France international forward KARIM BENZEMA, who arrived at Real Madrid in July of 2009 from Ligue 1 club Olympique Lyon in exchange for 35.0 million Euros, started the match for Los Blancos but was taken off in favor of Germany World Cup midfielder MESUT OEZIL just before the hour mark.
France international midfielder LASSANA DIARRA, who last appeared in Ligue 1 for AC Le Harve in 2005 before heading off to the English Premier League to play for Mourinho at FC Chelsea, was given the start in the center of the park for Real Madrid; the 29-year old, who also featured for Arsenal and Portsmouth across the Channel before transferring to Los Galacticos for a fee of 20.0 million English pounds in December of 2008, was largely ineffective versus Auxerre and, ultimately, replaced by the match-winner Di Maria.
AJ AUXERRE : Sorin ; Dudka, Coulibaly, Grichting, Hengbart ; Langil (Traore 78′), Ndinga, Chafni (Quercia 88′), Pedretti, Oliech ; Contout (Jelen 46′)
REAL MADRID : Casillas ; Marcelo, Arbeloa, Pepe, Sergio Ramos ; Khedira, Xabi Alonso, L. Diarra (Di Maria 74′) ; Benzema (Oezil 58′), Higuain (M. Diarra 86′), Ronaldo
Real Madrid’s Portuguese manager JOSE MOURINHO (right, in business suit), who steered Italian club Inter Milan to the UEFA Champions League title last season, sports a rather serious look on the bench with the assistant coaches and substitute players of Los Blancos at the Stade de l’Abbe Deschamps in Burgundy. (Reuters photo)
Real Madrid’s Portugal World Cup attacker CRISTIANO RONALDO (right) looks to push the ball upfield as Morocco international midfielder KAFNI CHAFNI (7) of AJ Auxerre attempts to keep pace at the Stade de l’Abbe Deschamps on the banks of the Yonne River in Burgundy, France. (Reuters photo)