Auxerre campaign ends in frustration
Frustration was the prevailing mood for Auxerre after their UEFA Champions League campaign finished with a 4-0 hammering away to Real Madrid last night.
France striker Karim Benzema's hat-trick condemned his compatriots to defeat at the Bernabeu and left them bottom of Group G with three points.
Those points came from a 2-1 victory over Ajax, the only side Jean Fernandez's side managed to score against in their six games - their one other goal coming as they lost by the same scoreline away to the Dutch side.
Injuries played their part, with strikers Ireneusz Jelen and Anthony Le Tallec absent for much of the tournament and midfielder Delvin Ndinga and defender Cedric Hengbart also absent in Madrid - where Benoit Pedretti departed the fray after an hour with a hamstring injury which will sideline him for a month.
"Against Milan and Real, we tried to defend well but scoring was too difficult for us," Fernandez admitted. "Also, we were without Jelen and Le Tallec, our two starting strikers at the beginning of the season. I feel a bit of frustration at not being able to call on my strongest side."
Nevertheless, he noted: "Coming to the Bernabeu is fantastic. Playing in a stadium like that will live long in our minds."
Defender Jean-Pascal Mignot agreed but said: "Frankly, 4-0 was very harsh. A 2-1 or a 3-2 would have felt better despite the defeat. It was a good adventure with some highlights but has weighed down our spirits a bit. We have lost a lot of energy and league points."
Mignot also found time to salute Benzema, claiming: "He is a great player - world class, the same as [Cristiano] Ronaldo."