England captain David Beckham has defended
Real Madrid coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo's decision to substitute him near
the end of Real's 1-1 Champions League draw with Olympique Lyon.
The Bernabeu crowd booed and jeered Luxemburgo for the last 10 minutes
of Wednesday's game after Beckham, one of the side's brightest
performers on the night, was replaced by defender Michel Salgado.
"My back was bad for three days before the Barcelona game but it felt
better until this game, when after a while I started to feel pain again,"
Beckham told reporters.
"It was set off by somebody's knee jarring me in the back.
"I have to be really careful. The treatment I am getting is working and
getting me into games, but the way I kick the ball always means I have
problems, its something I have to deal with."
Luxemburgo was unrepentant over his decision.
"The people just don't understand," he said. "Beckham was holding his
back and was in pain. He couldn't take any more and that's why I took
Lyon secured the top spot in Group F after Norway forward John Carew
scored 18 minutes from time to cancel out Guti's 41st-minute opener.
Real took second place but it did little to placate the home fans who
were still smarting from last Saturday's 3-0 home defeat to arch-rivals
Luxemburgo's decision to withdraw a midfielder and replace him with a
defensive player, rather than a forward, further fuelled the fans' anger.
Defender Ivan Helguera backed the coach: "Beckham was in pain. The blame
for the situation we are in falls on everyone not just the coach.
Changing him will not make things better."
The pressure on Luxemburgo has grown steadily after some lacklustre
displays and the defeat to Barcelona.
However Real have qualified from the group stage of the Champions League
and are just four points behind leaders Barcelona in the Primera Liga
despite suffering from a string of injuries to key players.
Brazilian striker Ronaldo has yet to play in this season's Champions
League competition while Zinedine Zidane, Julio Baptista, Jonathan
Woodgate and Thomas Gravesen have all been out with injuries.
Captain Raul is out for up to four months with a knee injury.
"We are going to get ourselves out of this predicament," said Uruguayan
midfielder Pablo Garcia.
"Everyone wants to help Luxemburgo. This Sunday will be like a final and
we need to be up for it. If we show the same application that we showed
tonight I am sure we'll move on."
Real, who are fourth, travel to San Sebastian to play 10th-placed Real
Sociedad in the league on Sunday.