Ronald Koeman couldn’t hide his frustration after seeing his team beaten 2-1 by Real Madrid in El Clasico on Saturday night in a result that has dented Barcelona’s titles hopes.
The Dutch coach felt his team ought to have been awarded a late penalty in the second half when Ferland Mendy appeared to catch Martin Braithwaite. Referee Gil Manzano did not award a foul which would have offered Barca the chance to score a late equalizer.
Koeman spoke about the incident after the full-time whistle and asked his interviewer Ricardo Sierra if he thought it was a penalty. Sierra attempted a diplomatic response which fell on deaf ears as an angry Koeman simply walked off.
The moment Koeman got annoyed at reporter Ricardo Sierra when he wouldn't say if it was a penalty on Braithwaite, and walked off umbrella in hand… pic.twitter.com/5HJs48XniH
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The defeat sees Barca slip into third place in the table, now one point behind Real Madrid and Atletico. The Rojiblancos can return to top spot on Sunday if they avoid defeat against Real Betis.
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Koeman Rages at ‘Very Clear’ Penalty
Koeman did manage to calm down and subsequently talk at a news conference about the incident, as reported by Marca. The Dutchman made it clear he felt it was an obvious penalty for his team.
“For me the penalty is very clear. Everyone has seen it. I do not understand a lineman who is ten meters away. The way Martin falls, it has to be a foul,” he said. “The referee may not see the play, but We have a VAR for situations like this. Better not to say more. The team has been mentally good. We deserved a good decision in the penalty situation.”
The Barca boss also felt referee Gil Manzano should have played more stoppage time at the end of the game. The match was held up in the second half when Manzano encountered some technical problems which appeared to stem from the very wet conditions.
“I only ask that the referees get decisions right,” he said. “It’s a penalty. and I think the extra time of four minutes, when the referee stopped the game for two or three minutes messing about with his shoulder. The penalty is very clear. One we have to accept and shut up.”
Barca came close to equalizing late on through substitute Ilaix Moriba. The 18-year-old smashed an effort against the woodwork in the dying minutes as the visitors piled on the pressure.
Koeman Not Giving Up Title
Koeman’s side must now regroup ahead of another crucial fixture in a week’s time. The Catalan giants play Athletic in the final of the Copa del Rey on Saturday which offers the chance for Koeman to win his first silverware as Barca boss.
The Dutchman’s side will then return to La Liga action, and Koeman is not giving up hope of winning the league just yet. He added, “I am optimistic. We have shown that we fight. We are going to react and fight until the last game.”
Saturday’s win gives Real Madrid the advantage in the title race but there is still a lot of football to be played. All three teams still have some testing fixtures to come which should make for a dramatic end to the campaign.