Valverde laments De Jong dismissal

Frenkie de Jong says he's relaxed about his indifferent start to life at Barcelona, although he admits he's been "a bit flat so far"

Ernesto Valverde believes the sending off of Frenkie de Jong cost Barcelona all three points as they drew 2-2 with Catalan rivals Espanyol on Saturday.

Barca looked to be on course for a hard-fought victory at the RCDE Stadium, as second-half goals from Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal put them in front following David Lopez’s early strike for La Liga’s bottom club.

However, the Dutch international was given his marching orders on 75 minutes after picking up his second yellow card and Espanyol were able to capitalise on their man advantage, as Wu Lei secured them a share of the spoils with a late strike.

Valverde was certainly disappointed to see his side surrender their lead and he believes De Jong’s dismissal was a turning point in the contest.

“De Jong’s red card did us damage,” Valverde told reporters after the game. “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.

“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.”

Barca remain top of the La Liga standings, but only on goal difference following Real Madrid’s 3-0 victory at Getafe earlier on Saturday – the two teams having drawn 0-0 at the Camp Nou in the first El Clasico of the season before Christmas.