Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho could not fault his players for their efforts but admits Sunday night's 1-0 defeat to struggling Osasuna has left them in a "much more difficult situation'' with regards to their pursuit of Primera Division leaders Barcelona.
A second-half strike from Javier Camunas earned 17th-place Osasuna the spoils in a hard-fought came at the Reyno de Navarra stadium and consigned Madrid to only a second league defeat of the season.
The defeat means Mourinho's men are now seven points adrift of in-form Barca - who have won 15 successive matches in La Liga - at the top of the table, and was a major blow to the capital club's hopes of winning a first league title since 2008.
Mourinho said after the game: "My players have done their jobs with dignity and I have nothing to reproach them for, they fought to the end. We lost three points that we didn't deserve to lose. Osasuna are a tough team and the crowd was fantastic. I don't think many teams win here. We had opportunities to score in both halves, but we haven't done it. And if the opponents score first it is very difficult. Congratulations to Osasuna.''
The Portuguese added: "This is our second defeat in La Liga and we are in a much more difficult situation with respect to first place. I always tell my teams that I don't like to gift games to the opposition, by not playing, not fighting or because we were relaxed...that wasn't the case. We lost against a team who gave it everything, and who had a week to prepare for the match.''
Madrid, who were held to a 1-1 draw by then-bottom club Almeria in their previous away game, do not have long to dwell on their defeat as they have an important match on Wednesday when they host Sevilla in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final.
Madrid lead 1-0 from last week's first leg as they look to win the cup for the first time since 1993.
Mourinho said: "Tomorrow is another day. We will be thinking about the game on Wednesday.''
Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso, who started the match on the bench as he was struggling with illness, added: "With this defeat the distance to Barcelona has grown, but there's a long way to go and we need to continue fighting until the end. We know that it won't be easy, but we need to look ahead and continue with the good work we have been doing. We cannot give up. We need to look ahead and think first about the cup game against Sevilla and then the next league game (at home to Real Sociedad).''