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Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has defended his players for not relinquishing possession after their opposition had courteously put the ball out of play as the move resulted in Barça’s equalizing goal.

Barcelona had to come from behind against Shakhtar Donetsk to score twice in the final three minutes – the winning goal four minutes into injury time – to secure a 1-2 victory on Matchday Two of the Champions League.

But it was the equalizer, on 87 minutes, that caused some controversy when the Blaugrana retained possession and kept on playing after Shakhtar had put the ball out of play for an injured player to be attended to.

Guardiola, however, saw nothing wrong as he justified the move: “My players continued playing because the Shakhtar defence had cleared the ball,” he said during the press conference.

“I do not understand how that is considered unsporting behaviour,” he continued.

The coach then had to downplay the enormous praise that two goal hero, Lionel Messi received from the press.

“We already know what Leo is capable of doing. He brings something different and he is a very decisive player. But we also have other footballers like Iniesta, Bojan and Xavi,” responded Guardiola, who went to joke that he will only play Messi in the last half hour of every game from now on.

KS Leong