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Real Madrid CF defender Ezequiel Garay admitted that exiting the UEFA Champions League early for a sixth successive season – this time at the hands of Olympique Lyonnais – was hard to take for the Spanish Liga leaders.
Going into their first knockout round decider with the handicap of Jean II Makoun's first-leg strike, the nine-time European champions received a boost when Cristiano Ronaldo levelled the tie within six minutes at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Yet, after Manuel Pellegrini's side failed to capitalise on their first-half dominance, it was Lyon who emerged 2-1 aggregate victors thanks to Miralem Pjanić's 75th-minute equaliser. As a result, Madrid failed to reach their first quarter-final since 2004.
"At half-time we couldn't have imagined things would turn out as they did because we were doing so well," the Argentina centre-back told UEFA.com. "However, when you miss so many opportunities at one end, it's most likely going to cost you at the other. We really gave our all in what was a very difficult game and you can't imagine how disappointed we are.
"We are a team that always pushes forward in search of a second and third goal, but you saw in the second half that they pressed quite high up the pitch and made it more difficult for us. We must now try to lift our spirits and look forward to the next game."
With Madrid's Bernabéu stadium hosting May's UEFA Champions League final, hopes had been high among Merengues fans that their club could progress to the 22 May showpiece. After seeing that dream dashed, defender Raúl Albiol told UEFA.com: "We'd like to say sorry to the supporters, because we know they were full of hope, especially as the final is being played here. We didn't take our chances and Lyon punished us. We feel bad but we have to move on."
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