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AS.com | 19/01/2013
Barcelona captain Carles Puyol highlighted the immense effort his team put in against Real Sociedad at Aneota, despite losing the match 2-3.
Goals from Leo Messi and Pedro Rodríguez gave the visitors an early lead but a strike from Chory Castro just before half-time gave the Basques hope. Gerard Piqué was sent off for a second bookable offence after the break and then Castro struck again to equalise, before Imanol Agirretxe snatched a winner in stoppage time.
"The team gave everything. We suffered, because they put us under a lot of pressure, but we also created a lot of chances," said Puyol after the match.
Although disappointed with the defeat, he still had words of congratulation for La Real.
"They were still in the game even when they were losing 0-2," he said.
"They played really well, even in the first half. Credit to them, but if we could have killed the game off in the first half the game wouldn't have finished like this.
"We could have killed the game off but it's always tough to win here. The pitch is normally very soft and it's always difficult for us.
"We played well in the first half and should have finished the game off but we went down to 10 men and we had to lose some day."
Puyol said the sending off of Piqué played a vital role in the outcome of the game and dubbed the decision "unfair".
He added: "I haven't seen a replay, but I saw it on the pitch. Piqué slipped, and the referee had to make a quick decision. But it has been decided, and we have to respect it."
And he said there was no reason why Barça should worry too much about the result, because "the team's goals and points record so far are fantastic", but stressed "we need to keep on working".
Barca will now turn their attention to their Copa del Rey quarter final second leg game against Málaga next week, and Puyol is confident his side can return to playing as well as they did last weekend, when they beat Manuel Pellegrini's side 3-1 in La Rosaleda.
"Now we have to go and win in Málaga. We think we'll be able to hit a high level of form again."
Finally, Puyol spoke about goalkeeper Victor Valdés, who announced last week that he would not be renewing his contract with the club when it expires in June 2014.
"He's a fundamental part of our dressing room," Puyol emphasised. "He has a year and a half left on his contract and he will continue to be a fundamental part of Barcelona until then."