Madrid: Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said he had no reason to criticise his players after the La Liga leaders conceded a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Valencia on Saturday and had their advantage at the top trimmed to two points.
Luis Suarez continued his hot streak to put the Spanish and European champions ahead in the 59th minute at the Mestalla but some sloppy defending allowed forward Santi Mina to level four minutes from time afterhe was set up by Paco Alcacer.
Barca squandered a host of chances in the first half, with Lionel Messi uncharacteristically wayward, but Luis Enrique said he was pleased with the team`s overall performance against what he called one of the best teams in the Spanish top flight.
"There is nothing to reproach the team for at an extremely difficult place to play," he told a news conference.
"We were the masters of the match," added the former Barca and Spain midfielder.
"Today football did not reward us for our efforts. Valencia worked very well in defence, they made the most of a great piece of play from Alcacer and a great finish from Santi Mina."
Barca have 34 points from 14 matches, two ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid, who won 2-0 at Granada.
Real Madrid are third, two points behind Atletico, after they thumped Getafe 4-1 at the Bernabeu.
Barca`s next outing is a Champions League Group E game at Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday, when there is little at stake for the holders who have already won the section and qualified for the last 16.
They host Deportivo La Coruna in La Liga next weekend before heading to Japan for the Club World Cup.
"Today`s game was tough because teams close ranks at the back and defend well," Luis Enrique said.
"Maybe we lacked clarity in taking our chances as we have done on other occasions.
"I am pleased with the ambition of these players and how they approach the matches."