Football

Koeman blasts players for error as Barca slip further in title race

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman lambasted his players for conceding a farcical goal in the 2-1 defeat by Cadiz yesterday morning (Singapore time), criticising their attitude after they slipped 12 points behind La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid.

Alvaro Negredo struck the winning goal after a series of mistakes from Barca as Jordi Alba's bungled throw-in flummoxed fellow defender Clement Lenglet and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen kicked the ball against the forward, who gleefully followed it into the net.

"We lost because of an incredible error, that is not the level I expect from my team," Koeman told Catalan network TV3 after Barca's fourth defeat in 10 league games leaves them in eighth in the standings.

"It shows we were not focusing. We also lacked aggression when we didn't have the ball today. The attitude was not good tonight. I'm very disappointed and we have to improve."

Cadiz had taken an early lead thanks to poor defending from Barca following a corner, when the inexperienced Oscar Mingueza almost headed the ball into his own net, but the hosts' forward Alvaro Gimenez scored instead.

Barca equalised in the 57th minute through an own goal by Pedro Alcala only to fall behind again soon after.

The comedy of errors which led to Cadiz's winner was the third consecutive away game in a row in which Barca have made unforced mistakes and failed to win.

Barca lost out on last season's title to Real Madrid on the penultimate day of the campaign, but now risk being knocked out of the title race with little more than a quarter of the season played.

Real eased the pressure on Zinedine Zidane with a 1-0 win over Sevilla, their first league victory since October. It leaves the champions in third, six points behind Atletico, who went top after beating Real Valladolid 2-0.

"It's a gigantic step back for our chances of fighting for the title," Koeman said.

"We have to see it like that after getting such a disappointing result today. A 12-point gap is a very big distance, but we have to keep going." - REUTERS

Football