x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Barcelona stretch their lead as Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho bemoans lack of rest

Mourinho hits out at Spain's football authorities after their goalless draw at Deportivo La Coruna, while Barca are 3-0 winners at Mallorca.

Mesut Ozil reacts after Real Madrid are held to a 0-0 draw at Deportivo La Coruna.
Mesut Ozil reacts after Real Madrid are held to a 0-0 draw at Deportivo La Coruna.

MADRID // Jose Mourinho hit out at Spain's football authorities after the 0-0 draw at Deportivo La Coruna last night, saying his Real Madrid players had not been given enough rest after Tuesday's Champions League match.

The dropped points at Depor's Riazor stadium enabled Barcelona to stretch their lead at the top of the Primera Liga to seven points with 25 games played after the champions won 3-0 at Real Mallorca the league's earlier match.

Mourinho, whose side drew 1-1 in their Champions League last-16, first leg at Lyon on Tuesday, told a news conference it would have been easier on Real if they had been allowed to play Depor on Sunday.

"I don't know what would have happened if we had played on Sunday but it would have been fairer," the Portuguese coach said.

"We could have given an extra day off to those who were most tired, we could have trained an extra day.

"The calendar is set by people who know what they are doing. They do what they want and they will carry on like that."

Real, who twice struck a post late on and Cristiano Ronaldo had a goal ruled out for offside, face a stiff task to catch Barcelona and end their great rivals' two-year reign as Spanish champions.

However, Jorge Valdano, the Real director general, said it would be absurd to give up on the title with 13 matches remaining and 39 points still available.

"Nobody gives up on the league in February so we will keep on fighting and see if we have a bit more luck in the next few matches," the former Argentina international said in a television interview.

"The team played with a lot of intensity as usual but we were unable to find the net," he added. "We weren't clinical enough in front of goal and we were also lacking in luck."

Barcelona, in contrast, had a comfortable time in Majorca. Lionel Messi gave the Catalans, missing key quartet Xavi, Carles Puyol, Victor Valdes and Dani Alves through a mixture of injury and suspension, a first-half lead by heading in his 26th league goal of the season.

And strikes from David Villa in the 57th minute and Pedro Rodriguez in the 66th sealed the win.

Espanyol turned up the heat in the second half to claim a 4-1 victory over Real Sociedad which moved them up to fourth.

Espanyol went ahead three minutes before the break courtesy of an Estrada own goal, Sociedad defender turning Alvaro Vázquez's shot past his own goalkeeper.

Estrada quickly made amends by conjuring up an equaliser on the stroke of half-time.

But Sergio Garcia made it 2-1 in the 54th minute and late goals from Jose Callejon and Javi Marquez sealed an emphatic win.

Jose Antonio Reyes netted a late equaliser against former club Sevilla to earn Atletico Madrid a 2-2 draw at the Vicente Calderón.

Sevilla twice took the lead through goals from Alvaro Negredo (41) and Ivan Rakitic (66) but Atletico hit back both times to deservedly claim a point.

Teenager Jorge Koke cancelled out Negredo's strike with his first league goal for the club, while Reyes, who came up through the youth ranks at Sevilla, netted Atletico's second equaliser with 14 minutes to go.

Elsewhere, Sporting Gijón and Real Zaragoza drew 0-0.