Football

Suarez: We will hunt Real down

Uruguayan striker confident of catching arch-rivals because they are 'Barcelona'

Luis Suarez insists Barcelona are "obliged" to chase down Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, despite losing more ground on the European champions following a 1-1 draw at Villarreal yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Even a fabulous last-minute Lionel Messi free-kick couldn't prevent Barca falling five points behind Real, who also have a game in hand, after Nicola Sansone had put Villarreal in front just after half-time.

The draw capped a poor return to action in the new year for Barca, who also lost the first leg of their Copa del Rey last-16 tie at Athletic Bilbao last week.

"We are aware that we are Barcelona and we are obliged to fight for all the titles," Suarez told Spanish TV station Movistar.

CUP NEXT

The Catalan giants must refocus quickly as they host Bilbao in the return leg on Thursday morning, hoping to avoid a first Cup exit to anyone other than Madrid since 2008.

Suarez had an unusually quiet night in front of goal as most of Barca's opportunities went to his strike partners Neymar and Messi.

"Villarreal have shown all season that they are very difficult to play against at home. We had our chances in the second half, but we couldn't take them until Leo's goal," added Suarez.

"We've let two points get away, but we just have to keep working hard."

Barca boss Luis Enrique believes his side had done enough to win the game, despite a familiar lack of cutting edge up front and fragility at the back this season.

He said: "We played well. We are not on the most positive run and you have to do more to win these type of games, but I have no criticism for my players.

"They played a complete game and we deserved the three points."

With still over half the league season to go, Enrique insists that Barca still have time to hunt Real down.

"There is still half the season to go and I am sure we will have the chance to fight for the league," he added.

"The only chance we will have to fight for the title, though, is by getting back to winning soon.

"To keep playing like this but with a different result."

Off the field, rumours are rife that Barca midfielder Ivan Rakitic could be on his way to Manchester City after being left out of Enrique's squad.

However, Barca vice-president Jordi Mestre said the Croatian is "loved" at the Nou Camp and that negotiations are ongoing to extend his contract beyond 2019. - AFP

OTHER RESULTS

  • Athletic Bilbao 0 Alaves 0
  • Real Betis 2 Leganes 0
  • Celta Vigo 3 Malaga 1.
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