Ernesto Valverde has admitted that Frenkie de Jong's red card did Barcelona 'damage' in their 2-2 draw with Espanyol, as la Blaugrana dropped two points against rivals Espanyol on Saturday evening.
Barça were a goal down going into half-time, but they quickly turned the game on its head in the second half to lead 2-1. But a second yellow card for De Jong in the 75th minute completely changed the complexion of the game.
Espanyol substitute Wu Lei snatched a late point for the hosts, condemning Barcelona to another poor away result. After the match, Valverde confessed that the Dutchman's dismissal affected them, as the visitors failed to maintain their lead at the top of La Liga.
"De Jong's red card did us damage," Valverde admitted, as reported by Marca. "We had three chances to kill the game off and we ended up drawing from one chance.
"We more or less controlled the match and we were fine after coming back [from a goal down], with this intention of continuing to score.They went forward and we were left with more space.
"It was in our favour and it removed us a bit, the opponent is always going to push at the end. They're going to have a [chance], they had that and they converted it."
Valverde is coming under increasing pressure at Camp Nou, as his side is showing more signs of fragility on the road. The Spanish boss found it difficult to accept the disappointing draw with bottom of the table Espanyol, insisting that his men 'played a match to try and win', but ultimately fell short.
"It leaves a bad taste because we wanted the three points," Valverde said. "We went in front and it feels like you've achieved a point if you equalise at the end.
"If you concede a late equaliser, it feels like you lose two points. We played a match to try to win. It was difficult to break them down, but bit by bit we did it. However, we were left with 10 men and they equalised."
Barça are now joint-top with rivals Real Madrid going into their Supercopa de España clashes this week, and the two sides may meet in the final on Sunday 12 January, depending on results.