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Last Updated: Friday, 23 September 2005, 06:09 GMT 07:09 UK
Real nightmare for Woodgate debut
Jonathan Woodgate
Jonathan Woodgate suffered a torrid Real Madrid debut, scoring a spectacular own goal and then being sent off against Athletic Bilbao.

In the first half Woodgate, 25, stooped to clear a Joseba Etxeberria shot only to head the ball past Iker Casillas.

Woodgate was red-carded on 65 minutes after picking up a second yellow card.

Despite Woodgate's sending off Real went on to comfortably beat Bilbao 3-1, with goals from Brazilian Robinho and a brace from captain Raul.

Woodgate's first yellow card came when he lunged at Bilbao midfielder Carlos Gurpegi just before the interval.

The second booking was for a foul on Etxeberria.

I just can't believe I got sent off
Jonathan Woodgate

Woodgate confessed: "It was not the best start in the world."

On his own goal, he said: "I couldn't believe it. I went to try to block the ball and it just skimmed off my head. Obviously, I did not want to get an own goal."

As for his dismissal, the former Leeds and Newcastle player added: "I just can't believe I got sent off. I didn't think the second yellow card was right, you know, but it's the referee's decision.

"I want to thank the public, who were brilliant when I was walking off. They were all clapping and cheering."

Injury to Ivan Helguera and a suspension for Sergio Ramos had allowed the central defender to make his debut over a year after joining Real from Newcastle in a 13.4m move.

Woodgate had not started a competitive match since tearing a thigh muscle in a Premiership game against Chelsea on 25 April 2004.

He had been due to make his debut for Real last October but suffered a recurrence of the injury in a training game.

Woodgate did make a brief appearance for Real in the final five minutes of a pre-season match in August.

On a positive note, the Englishman came through his debut without any adverse physical reaction.

"Physically I felt good," he said. "My leg was no problem and I felt strong."

He also vowed: "I will come back stronger."





SEE ALSO
Woodgate included in Real squad
27 Aug 05 |  Europe
Upbeat Woodgate in Madrid squad
28 Jul 05 |  Europe


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