Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez was left to rue his team's "many mistakes" after the Catalan giants were stunned by Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League quarter-finals on Thursday.
Entering the second leg at Camp Nou having secured a 1-1 draw in Frankfurt last week, Barca were widely expected to complete the job at home and book their place in the last four. But Frankfurt, inspired by a travelling support of around 20,000 fans, outplayed the hosts, with Filip Kostic scoring twice, the first an early penalty, either side of a stunning long-range strike by Rafael Santos Borre.
Sergio Busquets pulled one back for Barcelona in the 91st minute and then Memphis Depay scored a penalty in the 11th minute of injury time as the hosts attempted a late comeback. But it was too little too late as Frankfurt sealed a momentous 4-3 aggregate win and will now face West Ham after the Premier League side cruised past Lyon.
“This is a very big disappointment, a real shame because we wanted to win this competition but we have to congratulate Eintracht, they deserved to advance to the semis and we didn’t do well," Xavi said. "We didn’t play like we have recently, that is why we’re out.
“We tried, but our problem was the football. We had possession but we didn’t take advantage of it, our mistake. It was a fateful night. We made many mistakes, their second goal comes from a turnover, the penalty was an error, and in the third goal we are pressing one side of the pitch and allow them to move to the other. It was something we talked about and cannot happen. We have to be self-critical, we didn’t do well and that’s why we’re out."
Given Barcelona's recent excellent form, it made the shock of defeat and poor performance all the more surprising. Barca entered the game on a 15-match unbeaten run, including an emphatic 4-0 victory at arch rivals Real Madrid, and have surged to second in La Liga.
Barcelona player ratings v Eintracht Frankfurt
Xavi has called on his players to shrug off the defeat and turn their focus to league duties as Barcelona aim to keep alive their slim title hopes. More likely, the Catalans will look to solidify their top four hopes until the end of the season.
“Now we have to recover the players and continue to compete. We play Cadiz on Monday, the league is what’s left and we have to keep going," he said. "We cannot move away from the path we were on, we have to believe in what we’re doing.
"We have played great games, but losses are also part of football. If this is a failure, and I don’t want to use that word, we will learn more from our mistakes. This loss must make us believe in our ideas more, it’s a matter of time and patience.”
Xavi also said that he would be speaking to the club about how Frankfurt were allowed to have so many supporters inside the Camp Nou.
"Obviously it didn't help us," he said. "It was like a final, the fans evenly divided. The club is checking what happened but it was an error on our part."
Unsurprisingly, Frankfurt manager Oliver Glasner was full of praise for his players, saying: "What we have experienced today no money can buy. These emotions will last forever."