Liga - Mourinho silent as Pep concedes title

Sun, 22 Apr 08:28:00 2012

It took him nine attempts but Jose Mourinho finally got to taste sweet victory as a visiting coach at Barcelona's Nou Camp on Saturday when his Real Madrid side snatched a dramatic 2-1 success in the lair of their arch rivals.

Real Madrid's coach Jose Mourinho (L) gestures next to Barcelona's coach Pep Guardiola during their Spanish first division

The colourful Portuguese, who again declined to speak to the media after the game, had compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo to thank for netting the 73rd-minute winner on a rain-lashed night in the Catalan capital as Real moved seven points clear in La Liga with four games left.

Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola open up his post-match press conference by saying: "I congratulate Real Madrid on their victory and on the league title."

Club president Florentino Perez hired Mourinho to end Barca's Spanish and European domination and there was a sense after Saturday's result that a shift in the balance of power between the two world powerhouses could be imminent.

Real have to overturn a 2-1 deficit at home to Bayern Munich on Wednesday if they are to reach next month's Champions League final and if holders Barca can get past Chelsea, who beat them 1-0 in London this week, they will face a swaggering Real side filled with new confidence in another mouthwatering 'Clasico'.

The former Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan manager got his tactics spot on in Saturday's La Liga clash, comprehensively outwitting Guardiola for only the second time in 10 meetings in all competitions since he arrived from Italy two years ago.

Guardiola's decision to start with inexperienced B-team winger Cristian Tello backfired and he waited too long before bringing Cesc Fabregas, Alexis Sanchez and Pedro off the bench.

Mourinho appeared to have learned a lesson from his former club Chelsea, who managed to contain a dominant Barca in much the same way in Wednesday's Champions League semi-final first leg at Stamford Bridge.

After snatching an early lead through Sami Khedira, his battling troops repelled wave after wave of largely toothless Barca attacks and the home side's scrappy equaliser from Sanchez served merely to set the stage for Ronaldo's breathtaking breakaway winner.

World Player of the Year Lionel Messi was kept quiet for a second consecutive game - a worrying scoring drought by his unrivalled standards - as the Real players matched their Chelsea counterparts with expertly-timed tackles, controlled aggression and old-fashioned grit.

Guardiola threw the 20-year-old Tello into his first 'Clasico' and although he showed off his blistering pace on several occasions he wasted one of Barca's best chances by firing wildly over the bar from a good position.

Fabregas replaced him in the 80th minute but had few opportunities to demonstrate the creativity and goal-scoring prowess that prompted Barca to spend 40 million euros to lure him back from Arsenal in the close season.

Sanchez, who was carrying a knock from Wednesday's Champions League game, looked Barca's most dangerous player when he came on for Xavi and he had only been on the pitch for around a minute when he made it 1-1.

Asked about his formation at his post-match news conference, Guardiola said he did not believe Barca had been outplayed and he had no reason to reproach his team.

"They looked for their chances and we opened up the pitch very well," the former Barca and Spain midfielder said.

"Our team operates in tight spaces and sometimes it's tough," he added.

"It's a shame to have failed at a key moment, it leaves a bad taste behind for everyone, but they did not spare any effort. It's never easy playing Madrid, who are very physical."

Barca - Real: reactions

Guardiola now faces the task of lifting his players for Tuesday's Champions League second leg at home to Chelsea as the club chases a third European crown in four years.

Meanwhile, Real midfielder Xabi Alonso said in an interview with Spanish television that the title is not yet won.

"We have struck a very significant blow but it's not yet decisive," he said.

"Of course it's an important step towards the title but now we have to see it home.

"Cristiano's goal, coming straight after they levelled, broke their stride and that was fundamental.

"We controlled the match perfectly. It was a great performance, a fantastic result and I am very happy. Now we have another key match on Wednesday."

It took him nine attempts but Jose Mourinho finally got to taste sweet victory as a visiting coach at Barcelona's Nou Camp. - 2

Eurosport / Reuters

Comment 24 - 44 of 44

Sort comments by: Most recent | Most rated
  1. if messi isnt on form then barca are just an average­ team

    From guy, on Tue 24 Apr 13:00
  2. Get is RIGHT up you arrogant Barca fans. Now, come on­ Chelsea! Rub salt in their wounds.

    From misterb, on Mon 23 Apr 16:20
  3. This is the begining of the end of Barca's reign,­ thanks to Mourinho's and his boys

    From OlusolaA, on Mon 23 Apr 16:10
  4. why should people always expect barca to win any team­ they come across? Real under mourinho is different from­ the one 3years ago. barca will go trophiless this­ season.

    From , on Mon 23 Apr 15:25
  5. barca has learn a lesson. they think morinho will­ tolerate defeat each time they meet. more frustration­ is coming on tuesday when chelsea will knock them out­ of champions league.

    From , on Mon 23 Apr 14:10
  6. So Mourinho has to wait for his former club to show him­ the way? of all European clubs Barcelona get a hard­ time against Chelsea.

    From William, on Mon 23 Apr 9:06
  7. Hahaha Barcelona Dream Team Nr 2 is back, but not for­ long I guess. I wonder why didn't Barcelona turn on­ the sprinklers at the end of the game, I guess they­ will on thuesday night lol. P.S. don't forget to­ change your nickname once again after this season.

    From Both, on Sun 22 Apr 22:13
  8. please people listen our manager pep guardiola did on­ purpose to use different tactic and he knew our players­ their will find a little bit difficult and you people­ you will notice the result against chelsea what we­ going to do them on tuesday and if thugs rmadrid get­ through you will see will beat them and dominate the­ game big time pep guardiola is stupid hes done his home­ for mourinho you will different giant barcelona in­ munich and for surely giant barcelona going to win­ champions league innner style.

    From Almasi Fact, on Sun 22 Apr 21:43
  9. Congratulation to Real Madrid for their win over­ Barcelona. When i saw the Barca line-up in the first­ half, i immediately acknowledge what a lot of people­ have said about Guardiola: that he is not a good coach;­ He is fortunate to have such a good team like Barca. To­ leave Fabrageas, Pedro, and Sanchez for Tello and­ Thiago against a talented madrid side shows his lack of­ knowledge. Tello could not even control the ball on his­ feet, yet alone could he score a goal..And thiago gave­ up silly passes and when he give the ball away, he is­ so lazy to run back and recover. If Guardiola plays­ the same line-up against chelsea, Barca would be knock­ out of the Champions League.

    From David, on Sun 22 Apr 16:31
  10. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    barcelona are still the best team ever.

    From Shoaib, on Sun 22 Apr 16:26
  11. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    real madrid got lucky

    From Shoaib, on Sun 22 Apr 16:25
  12. real madrid did hard work they won no doubt. Barcelona­ player didn't attemp result sad. Dani Alvas drive­ alone in the box Xavi missed from close range Messi­ didn't fire from ( D ) area, he wander at midfield,­ oh Tello shyed and fired 12 fts above the post from the­ very close range really chicken hearted mate. Isn't­ Messi fullback defender? He loves to stay back funny­ chum.

    From Rubinsun Kirat, on Sun 22 Apr 15:32
  13. There is a myth that Barca players are telepathic. No.­ Their players have the intelligence to move into spaces­ and make an easy pass possible. Many English players­ pass the ball and then sprint out of sight behind the­ defence and expect a return pass. You see it all the­ time.

    From J, on Sun 22 Apr 15:17
  14. Guardiola is an arrogant prick.

    From Misi, on Sun 22 Apr 15:07
  15. Dream Team dude, you are pathetic. You change the­ subject so happily. Before the game you said that­ Barcelona will win very easily, why not admit you were­ wrong? Why not congratulate the opposing team? There­ were a lot of Barca fans who came and congratulated­ Real, that is classy and normal. Madrid played very­ well and probably deserved the win. Your whines on the­ referees make no sense. Barca were also favoured by the­ refs (e.g. Atletico)but that is beside the point. Your­ team could have made the gap 1 pt but it didn't­ work out. So show some class and congratulate your­ opponents.

    From Jón, on Sun 22 Apr 13:34
  16. OOOH! Madrid (finally) beat Barça, so it MUST mean a­ changing of the guard! What lame analyses! Maybe there­ is a shift at a fundamental level, but one liga a shift­ does not make. Sure, Barça's near complete­ dominance was bound to come to an end; what they­ accomplished in the last few years is such that people­ comment on their being amongst the best teams ever.­ Lets see if Mou's Madrid can win 3 leagues in a row­ and 2 champions leagues in 3 years. Who knows, maybe­ they can surpass what Barça has accomplished! And lets­ see if in these last games Ronaldo has what it takes to­ displace Messi as Balon d'Or dude....Or not, or­ perhaps we come back next year and take the liga. But­ all of these vindictive comments say a lot about the­ people who make them!

    From Adil, on Sun 22 Apr 12:56
  17. Cr7 is the best ever happened in the world, If Cr7 is a­ Doctor in big hospital facility,then A lady messi now­ is the nurse of local dispensary

    From , on Sun 22 Apr 12:53
  18. people thank ronaldo and forget about Ozil who pased­ the magic assist for the winner!! ... Ozil is the only­ player on Real Madrid team that makes taste to the team­ ... realy a joy to watch

    From , on Sun 22 Apr 12:44
  19. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    ronaldo will win the european cup and then rejoin­ Manchester with Mouringo.

    From You can't handle the truth, on Sun 22 Apr 12:33
  20. if barca fans want to make excuses .let them check the­ scores! it says 2-1 in favour of madrid! so stop­ whining guys! the better team won.SIMPLES!!~~~

    From Etah-kevin Owah, on Sun 22 Apr 12:31
Sort comments by: Most recent | Most rated

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account