Jean Fernandez said his prediction that AJ Auxerre's game at Real Madrid CF "would be the toughest of them all" was borne out as Karim Benzema's hat-trick earned the hosts a 4-0 win.
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AJ Auxerre coach Jean Fernandez admitted his prediction that his side's trip to the Santiago Bernabéu "would be the toughest game of them all" was borne out as Real Madrid CF prevailed 4-0 in Group G. Karim Benzema answered his critics with a hat-trick said Aitor Karanka, in charge of the hosts with José Mourinho suspended, though a suspected fractured jaw for Jerzy Dudek tempered his joy.
Aitor Karanka, Madrid assistant coach
We know what Karim Benzema is about as he does it day in, day out in training. It was important for him to have a night like tonight to rubbish the rumours that all was not well. If he is left to do what he does best, I'm sure the goals will flow.
It's a shame about Dudek's injury as everything was going well otherwise. After waiting so long for an opportunity to play, it is a pity it was so short: I hope he makes a swift recovery.
Looking ahead to the draw, the other teams should certainly be wary of Real Madrid.
Jean Fernandez, Auxerre coach
We knew from the outset that a section including Real and AC Milan would provide a tough task. We remain positive, though. We experienced a lot of magic moments in this competition even if we ended up in last place. I'd say that does not matter.
We knew tonight would be the toughest game of them all and were not mistaken.
I'm frustrated that not once have we managed to play our strongest team. It could have been much easier. We had a lot of shots on goal but got few on target, and [Cristiano Ronaldo's] second goal hurt us. Now we have two aims: secure our place in Ligue 1 and win the French League Cup [Auxerre are through to the semi-finals].