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Monday, January 5, 2009
Huntelaar revels in Real Madrid debut

Klaas Jan Huntelaar was delighted with his Real Madrid debut, but admits he was disappointed not to mark it with a goal.

Huntelaar played for 55 minutes before being substituted early in the second half of his new team's 1-0 victory over Villarreal.

The former Ajax striker, who had not played for two months with an ankle injury, went close to ensuring he enjoyed a dream debut only to be denied by a brilliant stop by Diego Lopez.

However, Huntelaar was still more than satisfied with his first performance in a Madrid shirt.

"I am very happy that we got the three points, it was a great night," he said. "I'm not tired. We got the three points in a game that was very important for us.

"It was a great atmosphere, the fans were very animated. In the first half I played better than in the second.

"I was close to scoring my first goal and that really excited me because I would have like to do it to thank the fans for all their support.

"I had some clear-cut chances. The goalkeeper made a great save but I should have scored. It would have been marvellous to score on my debut."

Sunday also marked the debut of Madrid's other big-money winter signing, Lassana Diarra.

The former Portsmouth midfielder played 78 minutes and impressed new coach Juande Ramos.

"Lass did an excellent job," he said. "But he was exhausted and he asked to be substituted because it had been a long time since he had played.

"Huntelaar had a first half that was quite acceptable but he was also tired because he had not played for a while and for that reason we needed to take him off in the second half.

"He had chances to score but the goalkeeper was very good. He had a very good chance that will have been good for his spirit."

It looks likely that Ramos will have to select one of the pair to play in the Champions League with UEFA remaining firm on the rule that only one new signing who has already played in Europe this season can be registered.

However, the former Tottenham Hotspur boss gave no clue as to who he would choose.

"I'm not having a debate on the matter," added Ramos. "They are two distinct footballers, in two different positions and the decision, which is mine, depends on the needs of the team and the work that we have to do to progress in the Champions League."

Huntelaar admitted he would love to play in Europe's premier club competition but acknowledged there was a chance he could be left out.

"Of course I want to play in the Champions League," added the Holland striker. "But I can't do anything, it's not my decision.

"And I will respect the decision which the coach and the club make, whatever it is."

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