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October 29, 2009

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Alcorcon adds to Pellegrini's troubles

REAL Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini blamed injury disruptions for his team's recent poor run of results, capped by a 0-4 rout from third-division Alcorcon in the Copa del Rey on Tuesday.

But Real's director general Jorge Valdano stopped short of guaranteeing Pellegrini's job was safe.

"There are lots of players who are out of form who have been returning from injuries," Pellegrini said to explain the run of poor results, including defeats to Sevilla and AC Milan.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Karim Benzema were among the players back from injury, while Cristiano Ronaldo has been sidelined throughout the recent poor run of results. Xabi Alonso and Gonzalo Higuain are among Madrid's other absentees.

Although the pressure was piling up on the Chilean coach, he insisted he will remain in the post.

"It has not even passed through my mind to resign, not recently, not today, not tomorrow," he said.

Valdano hinted he wasn't seeking the coach's resignation either.

"I trust fully in (Pellegrini's) seriousness and his professionalism and tonight has to be a moment of departure (for the team)."

However, he would not offer a concrete guarantee that the coach will stay. "It's not the moment to make a diagnosis and I just want to apologize to the fans," he said.

"I believe in the squad and I believe in the people that form a part of it," Valdano said. "I think that what happened tonight will only ever happen once."

Pellegrini rested Kaka and played Jose Maria Gutierrez as a creative midfielder in Alcorcon's 3,000-capacity Santo Domingo Stadium.

The home side's early pressure paid off in the 16th minute when Francisco Borja drifted along the edge of the area, sending his left-footed shot into the bottom corner.

Defensive chaos put the host 2-0 up in the 22nd when Madrid's Alvaro Arbeloa charged toward his own goal to gather the ball and misjudged, toe-punting it into the net.

Real finally started to string some attacks together and Rafael Van der Vaart drew a diving save from Juan Manuel Barrero in the 28th.

Three minutes later Alcorcon struck again, the unmarked Ernesto Gomez tapping in from a Mora cross. Seconds later Alcorcon's Fernando Bejar was through with only Dudek to beat, but the 'keeper just managed to trap the ball with his legs.

The increasingly frustrated Guti received a caution just before halftime for a challenge on Mora and was replaced by Fernando Gago.

Seven minutes into the second half Borja stroked in his second after Dudek failed to clear a dangerous Alcorcon cross. It was almost 5-0 seconds later when Diego Cascon just failed to slide onto Mora's pass into the area.

Ruud van Nistelrooy, back from injury, replaced Raul for the last 20 minutes.

Earlier, Atletico Madrid ended its recent run of dire results by beating third-division Marbella 2-0. La Liga contender Sevilla beat third-division Atletico Ciudad 4-2 with two goals from Luis Fabiano; and Recreativo Huelva drew 1-1 with Sporting Gijon.


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