Football

No one expected painful Barca defeat, says distraught Iniesta

Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta was struggling to accept his side's shock 3-0 defeat by AS Roma which knocked them out of the Champions League on away goals yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Barca's passage into the semi-finals looked assured after they won the first leg 4-1, but they gave their worst performance this season at the Olympic Stadium and went out after conceding a Edin Dzeko strike, a Daniele de Rossi penalty and a Kostas Manolas header.

"It's painful because no one expected this after the advantage we had, but you realise what the reality of the Champions League is like when you do things badly, when you make lots of errors, when you don't adapt to the game," a visibly distraught Iniesta said.

The defeat saw Barca knocked out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage for the third season in a row and derailed their hopes of winning the Treble.

"It's difficult to accept this elimination because we had a lot of hope for this season and once again it (the Champions League) has escaped us," he said.

"It's a very big disappointment after the great season we have had... We feel awful."

Barca's elimination has led coach Ernesto Valverde to accept blame for his side's woeful showing, while president Josep Bartomeu apologised to fans as he cast doubt on Valverde's future with the Spanish league leaders.

"I am responsible. I make the team, I prepare it. That is the case if we win or lose. I put out the same team as last week," said Valverde.

"It is a painful defeat. We wanted to keep going. Now we must lick our wounds. There are other competitions and we must try to win them because we have won nothing yet."

"I'm really sorry. Roma were the better team on the pitch. Roma believed and showed that when you try hard, you can achieve your objectives," Bartomeu was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

"Of course, it affects us... But the players will recover.

"Barcelona are always prepared to win on all fronts, be it with Ernesto Valverde or another coach. We fight to win everything every season, but tonight it wasn't to be."

Meanwhile, former Real Madrid striker Michael Owen attributed Barca's exit to Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez for their lack of effort in defending.

The BT Sport pundit said: "We've watched Barcelona for a number of months now and I'm not sure - even though they haven't conceded many - you can not concede when you've got two strikers who don't put anything into defending.

"They are defending with eight outfield players against 11 and I'm not sure you can do that at the highest level."

Football