Barcelona coach Luis Enrique refused to single out goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen for blame despite his calamitous error which led to the decisive goal in the 4-3 defeat at Celta Vigo.
The Catalan giants had fought back to 3-2 when the German ‘sweeper keeper’ tried to play the ball out from the back, only for his clearance to strike Pablo Hernandez on the head and ricochet into the net.
His wayward pass also led to Celta’s first as they raced into a 3-0 half-time lead. It was Barcelona’s second successive defeat in this fixture as they missed the chance to go top of La Liga heading into the October international break.
Enrique was adamant that the defeat ran far deeper than Ter Stegen’s error of judgement, and lambasted Barca’s first-half display in general.
“We didn’t win a single individual contest, we didn’t attack space, we didn’t take up good positions and we didn’t play with fluidity or movement,” he said in quotes reported by Diario Sport.
“We started the second half playing with more precision and better anticipation. It’s clear that the fourth goal killed us. But it didn’t surprise me with how the game was as a whole.”
Defending what many see as Ter Stegen’s willingness to take major risks in his own box, Enrique added:
“The Barcelona goalkeeper has to take risks. I’m not going to criticise individual errors. He has to play passes and when it goes wrong, we are not going to kill him.
“It is easy to criticise and say that maybe he shouldn’t have taken the risk, but everything is easy in hindsight.
“The defeat is everything and I am the most responsible for it. We win together and we lose together, but I am responsible for the rotations and so I want to assume my responsibilities.
“The season has only just begun though – we must lift ourselves.”
Pione Sisto’s well-taken goal set the tone in the 22nd minute and Iago Aspas added a breakaway second nine minutes later. A third goal arrived less than two minutes after that, Jeremy Mathieu diverting Daniel Wass’ cross past Ter Stegen with Aspas lurking.
Gerard Pique’s header and Neymar’s penalty gave Barca hope before Ter Stegen’s aberration with 13 minutes to go effectively sealed their fate, even though Gerard Pique cut the deficit back to one again with three minutes left.
Ter Stegen told the Cadena Ser radio station:
“It’s clear it’s my fault and there is no point saying any more. If I hadn’t made that mistake we had a chance to win the game.”