Luis Enrique: Barcelona suffered in victory over Atletico Madrid
BARCELONA -- Luis Enrique admitted his Barcelona side had "suffered" and been below their best after they edged past nine-man Atletico Madrid 2-1 at the Camp Nou.
League leaders Barca, who started the day ahead of Atletico on goal difference, fell behind on 10 minutes when Koke fired a dominant Atletico ahead, but goals from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez turned the game around by half-time.
Red cards for Filipe Luis and Diego Godin either side of the break hindered the visitors' hopes, but Barca were unable to take full advantage and Atletico looked capable of salvaging something from the game.
Luis Enrique told his postmatch news conference at the Camp Nou: "We had a difficult start, a strange start. We could not get into the game with the right intensity.
"We suffered a goal after a chain of our own mistakes. The last 15 to 20 minutes of the first half were very good. We had them penned in for 10 minutes and made chances.
"In the second half the objective was to close out the game, as quickly as possible, as we knew the difficulty Atletico could make for us, even with one player less, or two players less. We found it difficult to keep possession, and it was tough right until the end.
"It was a game in which we suffered. We are used to idea that if we don't win 4-0 it is a poor performance, but this is a very good result against a very good team."
The result means Barca go three points clear of Atletico in the La Liga table -- with a game in hand -- while third-placed Real Madrid are a further four points back.
"It's true this is an important week for us, against our closest rival, but there is a long way to go in La Liga," Luis Enrique said. "Every game, whoever is the rival, presents its difficulties. A lot of La Liga still to play."
Luis Enrique was reluctant to comment on his involvement in a minor touchline confrontation with Atletico fitness coach Oscar "El Profe" Ortega after Filipe Luis had been red-carded for a studs-up challenge on Messi just before half-time.
"You saw my reaction so you know what I thought," he said. "I am not going to analyse it now. This forms part of football, and nothing else."
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Pressed as to whether he could be happy with the performance, Luis Enrique stressed that both he and the fans could be more than happy with the result.
"There are much more positive than negative things from today," he said. "We always have things to correct, but this is football -- they are not machines. But I am very happy, as are the fans leaving the stadium."
Asked about a point-blank save from Barca goalkeeper Claudio Bravo from Atletico's Antoine Griezmann, at a moment in the game when Atleti -- then with 10 men -- were on top, Luis Enrique said he would not single it out as the key moment of the game.
"It was just as important as other moments in the game," he said. "The players are there to do important things."
Luis Enrique has now won all six of his meetings with Diego Simeone's Atletico over the last two seasons but he said: "It has more to do with the teams than the coaches."