x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Mourinho says title race not over despite Barca rout

A defiant Jose Mourinho brushed off Real Madrid's crushing 5-0 defeat at arch rivals Barcelona, saying the championship would still go down to the wire.

Barcelona didn't just beat their bitter rivals, they embarrassed Real Madrid and coach Jose Mourinho with a 5-0 victory.
Barcelona didn't just beat their bitter rivals, they embarrassed Real Madrid and coach Jose Mourinho with a 5-0 victory.

A defiant Jose Mourinho brushed off Real Madrid's crushing 5-0 defeat at arch rivals Barcelona, saying there were plenty of matches left in the season and the championship would still go down to the wire.

The flamboyant Portuguese, a former assistant coach at Barca who later managed Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan before being poached by Real, suffered his worst defeat in a league match at the hands of the La Liga champions but said it was "by no means a humiliation".

"It's easy to digest because it's a defeat in which there was no chance of winning," he told a news conference.

"One team played to their potential tonight and the other played very badly," he added. "The championship will be very close to the end. The result does not reflect the difference between the two teams. Obviously I am sad because nobody likes losing and least of all by that score.

"I hope it doesn't affect the players psychologically and I told them exactly that, that the championship does not end today and who knows we might be back at this stadium again this season (in the Champions League)."

Barcelona didn't just beat their bitter rivals, they embarrassed Real Madrid and coach Mourinho with a victory that moved the Catalan club into first place in the Spanish league.

The win was Barcelona's record fifth straight victory in the tie - dubbed 'el clasico' - and ended Real's 26-game unbeaten streak.

"For a first `Clasico' you couldn't ask for more," said David Villa, who scored twice off laser-like passes from Lionel Messi to break open the game early in the second half, to wild celebrations from the 98,255 fans at the Nou Camp.

Goals by Xavi Hernandez in the 10th minute and Pedro Rodriguez in the 18th, the latter capping a 22-pass build-up, put the defending Spanish champions 2-0 ahead, and Villa doubled the lead in the 54th and 57th minutes. Substitute Jeffren Suarez got the final goal in the 90th as Barcelona celebrated the 111th anniversary of its founding.

"We are proud because the world has seen us play the way we like to play," the Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said.

Benches cleared in the first half after Cristiano Ronaldo shoved Guardiola. Madrid defender Sergio Ramos was ejected in second-half injury time for a wild tackle on Messi.

"You have to have character. When you lose by five goals, you can't leave crying. You have to go and work harder," Mourinho, who had never coached a side that had lost by this large a margin, said. "You never want to lose by these numbers."

Madrid's frustration came to a boil in the 31st minute when both benches cleared after Ronaldo shoved Guardiola when the Barcelona coach didn't hand over the ball for a throw-in. Even the diminutive Andres Iniesta was in Ronaldo's face, and both the forward and Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes received yellow card.

"These things happen during the game," said Guardiola, who hasn't lost against Madrid in two-plus seasons.

Madrid got physical in a bid to slow the game and regain its composure, with Messi even drawing a yellow card in the 45th.

"They were better in all aspects," said Xabi Alonso, the only Madrid player to speak after the game. "What's clear is there's a lot of league left to play. Let's hope this defeat doesn't affect us, but time will tell."

Barcelona moved into first place with 34 points, two ahead of Madrid. The teams meet again in the Spanish capital on April 16 or 17.