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In tones of self-examination - even self-criticism - the Bernabeu boss explained his reasoning behind his side's shock defeat at the hands of the relegation-threatened Aragonese

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho put himself firmly in the firing line on Saturday night, having presided over the 3-2 home loss to Zaragoza, but opted to pre-empt his critics by taking the blame for the result.

The unexpected reversal signalled the first time that Mourinho has lost two competitive home games in a row since February 2002, and left the Portuguese boss feeling that his motivational skills had deserted him.

"The coach wasn't able to motivate his players, who didn't play well in the first half," he told a press conference.

"We gave up three goals to our opponents before we improved in the second period."

Admittedly his words could also be interpreted as a veiled criticism of his players, who seemingly took too long to get into the game.

To this end, the former Porto coach - who left Cristiano Ronaldo out of the matchday squad - brushed aside suggestions that he had put out a team too weak to complete the task at hand.

"The team was basically the same as that which played harder matches, like at [Athletic] Bilbao and Valencia, where they won with ease," he argued.

"Cristiano's absence was a decision of mine. We had (Gonzalo) Higuain and (Karim) Benzema ready and willing to play, we had Adebayor on the bench, and that was the decision."

"Our opponents battled hard. These points effectively sealed their stay in the Primera. When they took the lead they locked the match up and played against the clock, and with a little luck."

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