Barcelona's Pique: Telling Espanyol fans to be quiet was least I could do

BARCELONA -- Gerard Pique says telling Espanyol fans to be quiet was the least he could do after saving Barcelona's unbeaten league run with a late equaliser at Cornella-El Prat on Sunday.

Pique rose highest to head home a Lionel Messi free kick in the 83rd minute, cancelling out Gerard Moreno's opener and peeling away to celebrate in front of the home supporters by raising his finger to his lips.

The point made it 22 games without defeat for table-toppers Barca in La Liga this season, a new club record.

It came at the end of a week in which Espanyol had reported Pique to the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) for referring to them as "Espanyol from Cornella" after the recent Copa del Rey meeting between the two sides.

The defender was referring to the area of Barcelona where the club have played their home games since 2009 in an attempt, Espanyol believe, to discredit them.

However, Pique insisted he was merely stating a geographical fact and complained about the lack of action taken against insults aimed at him and his family during past Catalan derbies.

"Celebrating the goal was special after everything that's happened in the last week," Pique told reporters after the game.

"Some of the fans here have been directing insults at me and my family for a long time. I was telling them, in general, to be quiet, but maybe I shouldn't have. I know a lot of good Espanyol fans. Maybe it should have been directed at the club or its owners for not reporting certain things...

"They are from Cornella, like I said the other day. I know it hurt them and I used sarcasm to annoy them. But saying they play in Cornella is not disrespectful, it's a fact.

"They complain about that and report me, but they don't investigate insults towards my family. That is disrespectful. Telling them to be quiet was the least I could do."

Asked if despite being provoked he should still be more responsible, Pique added: "Players do have a responsibility, but we are also people and we react according to what happens. And there's a limit. And if those in charge [at Espanyol] don't say anything, then we will not be kept quiet."

In torrid conditions, with the rain pouring down throughout the 90 minutes and puddles forming all over the pitch, Barcelona looked set to see their unbeaten league record taken by Espanyol, who had ended their 29-game unbeaten streak in all competitions last month.

It represents Barca's best-ever start to a campaign, bettering the 21 games Pep Guardiola's side went without defeat in 2009-10. Real Sociedad hold the record at 32 games from the 1979-80 season.

"In the second half it was impossible to play football," Pique said. "You couldn't generate anything. So it's a good draw in the end and we are still unbeaten in the league."

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde agreed that a point was a decent result given the state of the pitch by the end of the game.

"It was difficult because as the game progressed you could play less and less," he said in his postgame news conference. "We had to adapt to the circumstances. In the second half, with the rain, the ball was holding up and the pitch was dangerous. Keeping in mind our style, it was tough to adapt.

"It's an important point. It's a derby and you don't want to lose. We fought well and came back to get the draw, which we give a lot of value to."