Jose Mourinho downbeat as Real Madrid's task of overhauling Barcelona becomes 'practically impossible'

Real draw and Barcelona win

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho conceded it was “practically impossible” for his side to now retain their Primera Division title on a night where runaway leaders Barcelona further strengthened their grip at the top of the standings.

Third-placed Madrid suffered a double blow this evening, first conceding an 88th-minute equaliser to be held 2-2 at home by struggling Espanyol and then later seeing Barcelona thrash Atletico Madrid 4-1 in the tap-of-the-table clash at the Nou Camp.

That Barca triumph, which included yet another brace from Lionel Messi, lifted Tito Vilanova's men nine points clear of nearest challengers Atletico and also left them 13 clear of champions Real.

Mourinho admitted that gap is now probably too much for his side to make up.

Speaking before Barcelona's win, Mourinho told reporters: "It's practically impossible. It's 10 points which could become 13. Thirteen points in December are a lot. We had eight last year and despite drawing two matches we maintained that distance."

Barca's triumph over Atletico means they now have claimed a remarkable 46 points from a possible 48 this season while it also saw Messi win his much-anticipated duel with Radamel Falcao.

Falcao put Atletico ahead in the first half with his 17th league goal of the campaign but, despite enjoying the better of the opening 45 minutes, Diego Simeone's side trailed at the break after a stunning goal from Adriano and a well-taken effort from Sergio Busquets.

Messi was a long way from his magical best but still ended up with two goals - his 89th and 90th of a remarkable 2012 - to quell Atletico's challenge in the second period.

Earlier, Barca's city rivals Espanyol gave Vilanova's men a big helping hand by drawing at Madrid.

Mourinho's side fell behind to Sergio Garcia's 31st-minute opener but looked to have done enough to take the points after battling back to lead 2-1 through goals from Cristiano Ronaldo (45) and Fabio Coentrao (48).

However, Madrid could not finish off their opponents and paid a heavy price as Juan Albin netted a late equaliser that left Mourinho resigned to likely failure in their title defence.

Ernesto Valverde's winning start as Valencia coach came to an end as striker Alejandro Dominguez's late penalty against his former club earned Rayo Vallecano a surprise 1-0 victory at the Mestalla.

Valverde had guided his new side to three successive away victories - one in the Copa del Rey, one in the Primera Division and one in the Champions League - without them conceding a goal since replacing Mauricio Pellegrini earlier this month.

But that fine run - and his home debut - was ruined by Dominguez's 83rd-minute spot-kick as Valencia slipped to 11th in the standings.

Valencia's city rivals Levante, meanwhile, are fifth after Ruben Garcia's 19th-minute strike earned them a 1-0 win at Real Zaragoza.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue