Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic said it “hurts to come away with a draw” after the La Liga leaders surrendered a two-goal lead against Villarreal on Sunday.
The reigning Spanish and European champions were cruising at half-time after Rakitic opened the scoring and Neymar converted a penalty just prior to the break at El Madrigal.
But Barca were pegged back in the second half by fourth-placed Villarreal, who claimed a share of the spoils thanks to Cedric Bakambu and Jeremy Mathieu’s own goal.
Barca remain nine points clear atop the summit but Rakitic still bemoaned the team’s slip up.
“After a difficult mid-week game [against Arsenal], it hurts to come away with a draw after being up 2–0,” Rakitic said.
“We played well and we controlled the game. We do have to fix some things, but now we have time to recover and work on it after the break.”
Barca team-mate Javier Mascherano, however, was far more upbeat about the result away from home, which extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 39 matches.
“Villarreal are one of the best sides in the league, and this field is never easy. It was intense and it was tough for us. At the end of the season you end up appreciating draws like this,” Mascherano told Barca TV.
“The game can be looked at two ways: we were winning 2–0 and they tied us, or we could have lost and we drew.
“There were 15 or 20 minutes that were really tough. They made their chances count, which allowed them to draw even. These things happen.
“They played well too, they also did things right. That means, at times, you have to suffer.
“Our attitude, which is not negotiable, is still very good. The team, despite some setbacks, always wants to keep going.”
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