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By ESPN Staff
May 12, 2008

Rijkaard saddened by Nou Camp defeat

MADRID, May 12 (Reuters) - Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard gave a rare display of emotion after his side's 3-2 loss to Real Mallorca on Sunday, admitting he was upset that his last match at the Nou Camp had ended in defeat.

Barca surrendered a two-goal lead and ended up slumping to their third defeat in four league games when Primera Liga leading scorer Dani Guiza struck his 26th goal of the season for the islanders four minutes into stoppage time.

The defeat, which followed Barca's 4-1 thrashing by arch-rivals Real Madrid at the Bernabeu on Wednesday, sparked angry protests from the home fans who jeered the players and called for club president Joan Laporta's resignation.

'It was a very sad night,' the Dutchman told reporters. 'We expected this sort of reaction, but as coach I'm sad that we had to play in an atmosphere like that.

'I didn't expect the end of the season to be so difficult. It hasn't been easy and we haven't been able to change the dynamics of the team. It is very difficult to play when things are like that.'

The defeat came just three days after the club announced that Rijkaard would not complete the remaining year on his contract and would be replaced by former captain Pep Guardiola as coach at the end of the season.

Rijkaard, who has been largely exempt from the recent criticism and has been praised for the way he has conducted himself during his five years as Barca coach, was cheered by fans every time he got out of the dugout during Sunday's match.

Sporting director Txiki Begiristain said the fans' reaction was a measure of their respect for the Dutchman who steered the club to back-to-back league titles and victory in the Champions League in his first three seasons at the Nou Camp.

'The people who came to the match paid tribute to a good and successful coach and also to his behaviour and the respect he has shown for the club,' he told reporters.