25 October 2014 23:40
Luis Suarez had mixed emotions after his Barcelona debut ended in 3-1 La Liga defeat to rivals Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu.
Suarez returned his self-inflicted global football ban for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in the World Cup and enjoyed a seamless introduction to the world’s most prestigious club fixture when his floated pass set up a fourth-minute opener for Neymar on Saturday.
The man who netted 31 Premier League goals in 33 appearances for Liverpool last season was cast in the role of provider once more as Lionel Messi passed up a gilt-edged chance to double Barca’s advantage and it was a miss Luis Enrique’s side were left to rue.
Gerard Pique’s handball allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to level with a 35th-minute penalty and second-half goals from Pepe and Karim Benzema gave Real a deserved triumph over the leaders.
“I’m very happy to be able to return and play,” Suarez told AS.
“It’s a big relief and I’m happy to have had the time [on the pitch] I did. The feeling is bittersweet with the result but this team has reached a high level many times.
“Playing here is difficult but we came to do what we could. Everyone knows how the Clasico goes – the first minutes are difficult but football has these things.
“We had to go forward and on the counter, they’re very good, and they killed the game.”
Suarez’s assist for Neymar to score for the sixth game in succession was one of the few occasions in which Barca’s star-studded forward line fired cohesively and they appeared to be very much a work in progress.
Neverthless, coach Luis Enrique had no regrets over handing Suarez a full debut and felt the open nature of the contest was ultimately his side’s undoing.
He told reporters: “Suarez was fine. I don’t regret starting him. We hoped for another type of game, a less open one.
“We wanted a game where we weren’t so light in defence. If you don’t work hard against these teams then it costs you.”