Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino played down the importance of football after his side’s 3-2 win at Villarreal on Sunday.
It was an emotional day at El Madrigal as Barcelona and opponents Villarreal paid homage to the champions’ former coach Tito Vilanova, who tragically lost his battle with cancer on Friday.
Goals to Cani and Manuel Trigueros put Villarreal 2-0 up but own goals to Gabriel and Mateo Musacchio set up a close finish.
And Lionel Messi bagged the winner with seven minutes to play to keep Barca’s La Liga title push intact.
Following the match, which saw Barca remain four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid, Martino was reluctant to speak at length about the result, instead focusing on Vilanova’s passing.
“It’s a weekend (that is) sad for Barcelona and for football,” he said.
“Speaking of football, regardless of how the game went, seems inappropriate. I just want to send a big hug and a lot of strength to the family of Tito.
“In this case football seems to mean so little that to transmit it to a player seems out of place.
“Secondly, it’s a fact, but my players showed a lot of strength.”
Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta admitted that Vilanova’s death had profoundly affected the team after working so closely with the coach for several years.
The 29-year-old said: “The death of Tito has affected us very much because he is someone we had known for many years.
“I’ll stick with the example that he always gave us as a person.”
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