Rafa Benitez rues Madrid's inability to kill off games after Sevilla loss

Real Madrid coach Rafa Benitez said his team's and inability to manage difficult situations was to blame for Sunday evening's 3-2 La Liga defeat at Sevilla.

Madrid looked in control when Sergio Ramos headed in against his former club midway through the first half, although the club captain re-injured his left shoulder in scoring and left the play soon afterwards.

Sevilla were back level before half-time thanks to Ciro Immobile's first strike for the club, and Ever Banega and substitute Fernando Llorente goals meant the home side took the points even after fit again James Rodriguez's injury time long-ranger found the net.

Madrid had been unbeaten and conceded just four times through their first 14 La Liga and Champions League outings, but the Blancos coach told his post-match news conference that his team had not been able to react to going behind for the first time under his reign.

"We played 30 very good minutes, lots of control, in all levels," Benitez said. "Then we let them score at a set-piece. That changed the game.

"From the second goal we started to make mistakes, they took advantage and scored a third. We came back and scored late, but it wasn't enough.

"That was the lesson from the game, in the first half a good Real Madrid for a long time, in the second half we were not able to manage the situation. We should have killed the game in the first half, and we didn't."

Benitez said that Ramos' injury was not the game's turning point, but had affected his ability to make tactical changes to turn the game back in Madrid's favour.

"I wouldn't say it determined things, as the other centre-backs played well," he said. "But one change made a difference, as we had one substitute less to change things when we wanted to."

Asked if there was any particular issues with Cristiano Ronaldo, who had another very quiet game after a week full of speculation he was considering leaving Madrid, Benitez blocked the question.

"I speak about the team, as a team, I do not talk about individual players," he said. "And we were not able to control the game in the second half."

The one Madrid player who impressed in the second half was James, back after two months out injured, who kept running and scored a fine goal.

"We saw today James is a great player, with quality in the final metres," Rafa said. "He still needs work and time to get his best rhythm back."

Benitez said that he expected a big response from Madrid in their next fixture, Nov. 21's Clasico at home to Barcelona, when he would have a fitter squad to choose from.

"We have 10 or 15 days to get those back those players we're missing, in the best condition possible," he said. "A big game like that is always different. I hope the team react well to this defeat."

Real captain Ramos was more scathing in his assessment of his team's display.

"Everyone can use the adjective they want to describe our performance, but we did not play well and that is reflected in the result," the defender told Canal Plus.

"I think we were a bit static, although I can't explain why. League titles are won by the finest of margins and [on Sunday] we lost three very important points. We need to change our mentality."

Sevilla coach Unai Emery, meanwhile, was able to celebrate another victory over Spain's top two sides, having engineered a 2-1 triumph over Barcelona at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in October.

"We suffered against a great team but we managed to overpower them by staying in the game, and that was the objective," Emery said after the match. "I'm delighted for the team and our supporters, and we're really happy."

Emery acknowledged his side had learned from their 3-1 defeat to Manchester City on Tuesday.

"I think at home we are able to find the formula that makes us a better team and one that is hard to beat, and when the best teams visit you and any error can cost you the game, you have to be able to adjust many things," he said.

"After the City game we realised we needed to avoid conceding counter-attacks, because Real Madrid are absolutely lethal there. We didn't allow them any space and we defended very tightly."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.