MADRID, Spain, January 9 – Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola refused to concede defeat in La Liga title race after a 1-1 draw with Espanyol left the defending champions trailing bitter rivals Real Madrid by five points.
Barcelona took a 16th-minute lead through a header from Cesc Fabregas — the club’s 100th goal in all competitions this season — but were rocked when Alvaro Vazquez scored an 86th-minute equaliser with a diving, close-range header.
Gerard Pique hit the woodwork in injury-time as Barca’s last chance for the three points went begging, leaving Real Madrid, who had coasted to a 5-1 win over Granada on Saturday, in control of their title destiny.
“The championship is very long and there are still plenty of points up for grabs which can be won and lost,” said Guardiola.
Fabregas, who now has nine league goals to his name, also insisted that the title race was far from decided especially with over half the season still to run.
“Difficult game tonight, we left two points but we have to keep going till the end. Now time to rest,” Fabregas wrote on his Twitter account.
Barcelona thought they had should have had a penalty in injury time when Espanyol defender Raul Rodriguez appeared to handle the ball in a goalmouth scramble.
But Guardiola refused to point an accusing finger at the referee.
“In football, you have to overcome things like this. You can only change what is in your power,” he said.