Auxerre: Nine times champions Real Madrid were forced to wait for a late Angel Di Maria goal to earn them a 1-0 win at Auxerre during an unconvincing display in their Champions League Group G match.
Second half substitute Di Maria volleyed home from inside the area nine minutes from time to send Real top of the group standings on six points, two ahead of AC Milan who were held to a 1-1 draw at Ajax Amsterdam.
Auxerre were on the back foot throughout the match but proved dangerous on the break and under-pressure Real defender Pepe even headed the ball against his own post from a cross shortly before Di Maria broke the deadlock.
The home side were content to reach the interval with a clean sheet after Olivier Sorin pulled off some good saves to deny Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo, who cost more than three times Auxerre`s 30 million euro ($40 million) annual budget.
"It was a very difficult match, (Auxerre coach) Jean (Fernandez) prepare it very well tactically," Real coach Jose Mourinho told a French TV channel.
"It is important to have six points before playing AC Milan, but a draw would maybe have been logical."
Fernandez agreed a draw would have been a fair result.
"It`s kind of Jose to say that. I actually also think a draw would have been well deserved," he said.