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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Ajax 1-2 Real Madrid: Solari on Champions League win

Ajax 1-2 Real Madrid: Solari on Champions League win

WOLFGANG RATTAY

REUTERS

Santiago Solari praised his side's "backbone" after Real Madrid earned a narrow first-leg win over Ajax in the Champions League last 16.

Santiago Solari on Ajax 1-2 Real Madrid:

Were you expecting such an intense Ajax?

"They've been saving all their energy for this game. They didn't let us play our game, pressing us aggressively and very high up the pitch. When the game opened up and they stopped pressing us so intensely, we managed to get playing and create chances."

Ajax better than Madrid on the night?

"That's your opinion. We did a lot of things right to come away with this result. We were able to do what was needed, and showed real backbone."

Karim Benzema's post-match complaints over the team's approach in the opening stages:

"It's not that we didn't show enough energy, it's that they pinned us back and took the ball off us, often at the limit of what was legal."

Marco Asensio, who came on to score the winner:

"I'm particularly pleased about Asensio's goal and performance. It's his third appearance since he came back [from injury] and he's coming on leaps and bounds, doing everything that he needs to do."

Are you also pleased with Gareth Bale? You took him off after an hour, which is when you tend to bring him on when he's a substitute. Is that your plan for him?

"That's just a coincidence. I'm very happy with how everyone played. We needed everyone to put a real shift in and if they hadn't, I don't think we would have come away with the win."

VAR:

"Us coaches don't have a monitor in front of us. We just go with what the referee says."

Second leg at the Bernabéu:

"We have to approach it with the same professionalism and dedication - the approach you need when it's the Champions League knockout stages."