Tue, Dec 18, 2012 - Page 20 News List

BBVA: Mourinho declares title race mission impossible

AFP, MADRID

With Real Madrid trailing La Liga leaders Barcelona by 13 points, Jose Mourinho admitted on Sunday that the title race is over.

While Barcelona kept up their prolific form with their 15th win in 16 games by beating second-place Atletico Madrid 4-1, Mourinho’s stuttering Real could only draw 2-2 against lowly RCD Espanyol.

“The league is now impossible,” Mourinho said. “It is the first time that I have been in a situation like this where my team are a long way off their objectives.”

On Sunday, Cristiano Ronaldo equalized for defending champions Madrid on the stroke of half-time after Sergio Garcia had put joint-bottom Espanyol ahead on the half-hour mark.

Two minutes after the restart, Fabio Coentrao put Real in front, but it was not enough as Juan Albin slotted home from close range two minutes from the end.

The pressure is firmly on Mourinho and it has been reported in the Spanish press that his criticism of players has created a rift in the dressing room.

“There is always talk like this, but it doesn’t influence [me] in anyway. The team is fine, although we don’t show the same happiness if we aren’t winning. On another day we would have had three or four goals [against Espanyol],” he said.

At the Camp Nou, Barcelona saw off closest challengers Atletico, who remain in second spot, but are now nine points off the lead.

Colombian striker Radamel Falcao put Atletico ahead after 31 minutes with his 17th league goal of the season, but Barca responded with goals from Adriano and Sergio Busquets before half-time.

After the break, Lionel Messi scored his 24th and 25th league goals of the campaign, and now has 90 in the calendar year, as Tito Vilanova’s side extended their record start to 15 wins from 16 games.

Despite their huge advantage, Vilanova insisted the title race is not over, saying that Barcelona, under Pep Guardiola, overcame a 12-point deficit to overhaul Real Madrid and claim the 2008 to 2009 La Liga title.

In other games on Sunday, Real Zaragoza fell to Levante UD with a goal from Ruben Garcia in the 19th minute, while Rayo Vallecano de Madrid triumphed over Valencia with a penalty late in the second half from Chori Dominguez.

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