joy and pain for spain in Europe

MADRID - There was both disappointment and delight in the Spanish spring air yesterday, as a result of the contrasting Champions League performances of Real Madrid and Villarreal.

MADRID - There was both disappointment and delight in the Spanish spring air yesterday, as a result of the contrasting Champions League performances of Real Madrid and Villarreal.

Real were slaughtered 4-0 by Liverpool on Tuesday in an embarrassingly one-sided round of 16 clash, and crashed out of the competition 5-0 on aggregate.

Villarreal, by contrast, defiantly won 2-1 at Greek side Panathinaikos to go through 3-2 from both games.

Real's Anfield meltdown was front-page news in practically every Spanish newspaper yesterday. As expected, Catalan papers Mundo Deportivo and Sport appeared pleased with Liverpool's triumph, and gave almost as much coverage to Real's humiliation as to Barcelona's match with Olympique Lyon scheduled for last night.

Catalan television channel TV-3 on Tuesday night compared Real's defeat to the 5-0 slaughter the whites suffered against the AC Milan side of Ruud Gullit and Marco Van Basten in 1989.

The Madrid sports dailies AS and Marca were, understandably, disappointed with Real's lack of resistance at Anfield.

Marca reminded its readers that Real have not got beyond the round of 16 since 2004. The daily said goalkeeper Iker Casillas was the only Madrid player who did not let his club down at Anfield.

AS editor Alfredo Relano said Real's problems are due to having had five presidents and seven coaches, plus umpteen sporting directors, in the past five years.

Villarreal, meanwhile, received plenty of praise for their heroics in Greece. AS named them "the pride of the nation" and said that coach "Manuel Pellegrini continues to make history with his Villarreal".

Marca was impressed with how Villarreal managed to triumph "in the Greek inferno". - Sapa-DPA

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