Michael Dawson summed up our 4-0 defeat at Real Madrid by admitting: “That hurt.”
As manager Harry Redknapp pointed out, everything that could have gone wrong went wrong in the early stages of our Champions League quarter-final, first leg at the Bernabeu.
We lost Aaron Lennon through illness just before kick-off, conceded a goal inside five minutes and then had Peter Crouch sent off for two yellow cards with only 15 minutes on the clock.
Facing 75 minutes with 10 men against one of the best teams in the world, the lads, inspired by skipper Michael, stood firm and kept the scoreline to 1-0 at half-time.
But ‘Daws’ was left frustrated with the manner of Real’s second goal in the 57th minute – a free header for Emmanuel Adebayor – and the home side added quality strikes from Angel Di Maria and Ronaldo to make it a tough night in the Spanish capital.
“We went out to give our all, it didn’t go to plan and that hurts,” said Michael.
“They were always going to be a threat but we gave them the early goal. We then went down to 10 men and it’s a tough task from there.
“We actually reacted well to the sending off. We stood strong for 45 minutes, defended well and got blocks in but to then come out in the second half and give another goal away was disappointing. After that, it was two top-class finishes.”
Michael led by example as wave after wave of attack came in and he was in no mood to accept our Champions League dream had completely faded with the second leg to follow at the Lane on Wednesday week, April 13.
“It will be a tough, tough task, we know that, but we won’t give up.”