Football

Enrique blames fatigue for shock loss to Deportivo

Barcelona were brought back to earth after their remarkable Champions League victory over Paris St Germain as they slumped to a 2-1 La Liga defeat by Deportivo La Coruna yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Deportivo began the game 17th in the standings while Barca, who had won 8-0 at Riazor last year, were looking to tighten their grip on top spot but instead lost for the first time in the league since they were beaten at Celta Vigo on Oct 2.

Joselu, on loan from Premier League side Stoke, opened the scoring for the hosts with just five minutes remaining of the first half at the Riazor.

Luis Suarez drew the defending champions level moments after the interval with his 21st league strike of the campaign, but Alex Bergantinos headed home Deportivo's winner with 17 minutes to go.

Barcelona's defeat provided Real Madrid with the chance to move back to the summit and they duly did so after a hard-fought 2-1 victory against 10-man Real Betis.

Barca coach Luis Enrique blamed the shock defeat on the exertions of their sensational midweek Champions League 6-1 win over PSG.

"Only someone who has lived what we lived this week can understand what it means, but professionals need to know how to cope with these situations," said Enrique.

"We knew it would be difficult here, but what happens before a game always has an impact in the next. It's better to arrive at a game feeling euphoric than pessimistic, we were focused, but we still lost."

Enrique said he was disappointed his side could not build on the momentum gained from winning five games in a row and scoring 17 goals in their previous three.

"We lacked clarity in the final few metres and it's a shame because this game was crucial to keep our confidence high and for our rivals to see that we mean business," he added.

"We didn't have the fluidity we needed to overcome their deep defending. We have to accept this defeat. There's a lot of games left." - REUTERS

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