After PSG high, Barca brought down to earth

A frustrated Luis Suarez, who scored Barcelona's equaliser at Deportivo. Poor defending from corners cost them in the 1-2 loss, as they conceded top spot in La Liga to Real and Barca manager Luis Enrique knows they need a "very strong" finish to secu
A frustrated Luis Suarez, who scored Barcelona's equaliser at Deportivo. Poor defending from corners cost them in the 1-2 loss, as they conceded top spot in La Liga to Real and Barca manager Luis Enrique knows they need a "very strong" finish to secure a third straight title.PHOTO: REUTERS

BARCELONA • Striker Luis Suarez believes Barcelona's stunning 6-1 thrashing of Paris Saint-Germain may have covered up the cracks in the Spanish giants' season, after they collapsed to a 2-1 defeat by Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday.

The Uruguayan scored Barca's equaliser early in the second half, but the visitors' poor defending from corners was punished by Joselu and Alex Bergantinos to hand struggling Deportivo their first win over Barca since 2008.

"Just because you win one game doesn't solve the problems of a season, nor does losing one mean all is lost," the Uruguayan told BeIN Sports Spain.

Barca manager Luis Enrique accepted that it had been "difficult" for his side to lift themselves from the tiredness and euphoria of pulling off the biggest comeback in Champions League history from a 0-4 first-leg deficit.

However, Suarez claimed that Barca, despite missing the injured Neymar, had enough recovery time to put in a better performance than they showed at the Riazor Stadium.

"There was enough time to recover and we were aware the league game was coming," he added.

The shock defeat mean that Barca lost top spot in La Liga to Real Madrid, who recovered to beat Betis 2-1 thanks to a header by their irrepressible skipper Sergio Ramos, who now has seven league goals.

Real coach Zinedine Zidane hailed the contributions of goalkeeper Keylor Navas despite the latest in a series of blunders this season from the Costa Rican.

Navas pulled off a stunning stoppage-time save from Antonio Sanabia to secure the 2-1 win. But it was his own goal that put the visitors in front at the Bernabeu and he was also extremely lucky to avoid being sent off after just 20 minutes.

Navas appeared to chop down Darko Brasanac on the edge of the Real area as he raced from his goal with no covering defenders, but referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz waved play on.

"I said to him at half-time, 'Anyone can make a mistake'," said Zidane.

"The most important thing for me is the support Keylor received from his team-mates.

"They know how important he is and in the end he made a great save to get us the three points."

Real were once again bailed out by headers from Cristiano Ronaldo and Ramos.

Victory moves them two points clear of Barcelona at the top of the table on 62 points and with a game in hand. Sevilla are third on 57.

Enrique claimed it will take a "very strong" end to the season in Barca's remaining 11 league games to deliver a third consecutive title.

"Now we have to think that we still have matches against our rivals for the title to come," said Enrique.

"We are going to have to have a very strong end to the season to be able to opt for trophies."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2017, with the headline 'After PSG high, Barca brought down to earth'. Print Edition | Subscribe