Benitez shrugs off exit talk


Real Madrid boss Rafael Benitez brushed aside speculation over his future after pressure on his position increased with a 2-2 draw at his former club Valencia.

Benitez’s side twice led at the Mestalla but were pegged back both times and also had Mateo Kovacic sent off in an eventful Primera Division clash.

Asked about his position, Benitez tried to turn focus to the positive aspects of his side’s performance.

Benitez told reporters: “You are free to ask that question, but not well focused. For the effort we deserve more praise than anything else.

“I cannot prevent speculation about whether I continue, but I can make the team work as it has today. We were capable of getting the three points.”

Benitez felt his side deserved credit for going ahead after Kovacic’s dismissal, although Gareth Bale’s 82nd-minute header was quickly cancelled out by Paco Alcacer. Real had also led in the first half through Karim Benzema but Daniel Parejo levelled from the penalty spot.

He said: “With 10 players we had to make an effort and the team has done. We can only regret that after going 2-1 ahead, we conceded in the next minute.”

Valencia head coach Gary Neville, who is still awaiting his first win since taking charge of the club, referred to the game as his “best so far” and was pleased with the performance.

He said: “After 15 difficult minutes, we started doing well and we gave them a lot of problems.

“We played too slowly against 10, we relaxed a bit, but we played a good game. It was a fantastic performance. What I care about is whether we will be able play well.”



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