Returning Barcelona captain Carles Puyol said he was delighted to make it through his first game back after a serious knee injury unscathed -- but said Saturday's goalless draw at Osasuna had left him feeling disappointed.
Barca saw their run of eight successive La Liga wins from the start of the season come to an end as their opponents dug in for a well-won point.
Puyol's inclusion was the most notable in a heavily changed Barcelona lineup, and the 35-year-old Spain international reported no ill effects as he ended his long layoff.
“These last couple of months have been complicated, but I've been training with the team for days,” he told the club's official website. "I'm pleased with how I felt on the pitch, but not with the final result.”
Barcelona failed to score in a league match for the first time in two years as coach Gerardo Martino rested players including Alexis Sanchez and Lionel Messi -- who came off the bench -- ahead of the week's Champions League game at AC Milan.
“We knew that this is a difficult stadium to play in, we weren't accurate in front of goal and our final touch wasn't precise,” Puyol said.
But the point was enough to take them to the top after Atletico Madrid’s perfect record was brought to an end by a 1-0 defeat at Espanyol.
Full-back Martin Montoya hailed Puyol's return, saying it had boosted confidence in a defnce unsettled by injuries in recent weeks.
“Puyol played a great match, and hopefully he can play the rest of the season because he's important for us,” he said. “We tried to win from the first minute, but in the end it wasn't meant to be. This is a difficult stadium to play in.
“I'm pleased for the chance I was given, I'm aware that I'm playing for a big team and that I compete with [Dani] Alves, who's a beast, but I have to take advantage of my chances.”
Martino named his 22-man squad for the trip to the San Siro on Sunday, with key defenders Alves and Gerard Pique and Sanchez in line to return.
Jordi Alba and Ibrahim Afellay remain sidelined by injury while Isaac Cuenca is the only player to be dropped from the squad.