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Raul relieved to survive BATE banana skin

November 26, 2008

Real Madrid captain Raul admits his side were made to suffer by BATE Borisov before finally recording the 1-0 win that saw the Spanish giants advance to the last 16 of the Champions League.

Madrid, under pressure following a poor run of recent results that included home and away defeats to Juventus in Group H, could hardly have asked for a better start as Raul netted inside seven minutes to put Bernd Schuster's side ahead.

The Spanish champions had chances to build on that lead, including a Raul effort in the second half that was tipped onto the crossbar, but they could not find the killer second goal and had to play out a nervy end to the match as BATE sought a late leveller.

"We have obtained our passage to the last 16 which was the important thing. I'm happy because the team went out focused. Scoring so soon helped us relax and then we have suffered until the end," Raul told Spanish television channel Antena 3.

"For BATE the game was like a final and they looked for a goal until the last instant, but we obtained an important victory which will allow us to be more relaxed in the final group game."

Raul's goal was his first in Europe this season but his 62nd overall in the Champions League, while it also saw him move level with AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi as the joint leading scorers in UEFA club competitions with 64.

"This year it has taken a bit of an effort to score my first, but I'm happy because it means we have qualified," said Raul, who has urged his side not to rest on their laurels having now beaten Recreativo Huelva and BATE in consecutive matches after losing four in eight.

"We have to continue working, we have picked up two important victories on the trot. This win gives us confidence," he added.

Madrid's next match is at local rivals Getafe in La Liga this weekend, before they then face title rivals Sevilla, Barcelona, Valencia and Villarreal in successive league fixtures.

During that run Madrid must also host Zenit St Petersburg in their final Group H game, needing a victory from that match and a defeat for Juventus against BATE Borisov in the other fixture to finish as pool winners.