sport

Martino feeling heat at Barca

Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino was left to rue his side's lack of a cutting edge after their Primera Division title prospects took a severe dent in a 1-0 defeat at Granada.

The match was settled by Yacine Brahimi's early strike, the Algerian racing through a Barca defence containing no natural centre-backs and scoring past Jose Manuel Pinto.

The visitors, who began without midfielder Xavi and first-choice full-backs Dani Alves and Jordi Alba, were unable to respond - thwarted on a number of occasions by Granada's outstanding goalkeeper Orestis Karnesis.

"I don't have any complaints for how my players played," Martino said at his post-match press conference. "This is a game that we should have won.

"The rotations have nothing to do with the result.

"We didn't score the goals we needed to win. We lacked accuracy. In a normal game, we would have won by three or four goals."

Real Madrid's 4-0 win over Almeria in the late kick-off on Saturday saw them leapfrog Martino's men into second place in La Liga, and Atletico Madrid can go three points clear at the summit with victory at Getafe on Sunday evening.

But, while the Argentine coach acknowledged Barca's fate was now out of their hands, he vowed not to throw in the towel.

"We no longer depend on ourselves to win the league title," he said.

"(But) we shouldn't confuse sadness after a defeat with us giving up on the title race. I will give up only when there is no mathematical chance."

The loss capped a nightmare week for the Catalan club, who crashed out of the UEFA Champions League three days earlier at the hands of Atletico.

They have another big game on the horizon in which to make amends, though, and Martino has urged his players to do just that in Wednesday's Copa del Rey final against arch rivals Real Madrid at the Mestalla.

He said: "After the two defeats, the players feel as though something important has been lost, but the game on Wednesday is a final and we have to win it."