Diego Simeone insisted Atletico Madrid did not lack intensity after it succumbed to a 3-0 defeat at Espanyol that left rival Real Madrid with a glimmer of hope of leapfrogging it in the table.
An own goal by Atletico captain Diego Godin on the stroke of half-time set Espanyol on its way and a Borja Iglesias double in the second half ensured the visitor's four-match winning streak ended with a heavy loss.
MATCH REPORT| Espanyol 3 Atleti 0: Sloppy Rojiblancos overrun on the road
Atletico needs a point from either of its final two fixtures against Sevilla and Levante to make sure it finishes second in LaLiga, and Simeone rejected the suggestion that his players failed to show enough urgency at RCDE Stadium.
"I don't think it was a lack of intensity," said Simeone.
"The match was a hard-fought one and it was competitive.
"Both teams were in it until the 60th minute, then that's when things didn't happen for us.
"Although we started the second half well with a good chance for [Alvaro] Morata, Espanyol improved and deserved the win."
Atletico's failure to take the title race down to the wire disappointed its fans, but Simeone defended his side's performance in a division he described as "fantastic".
A runner-up finish would be Atletico's second in as many seasons – something the coach said is a point of pride for his team.
"The Spanish league is fantastic," he said. "So we will try to finish in the best possible position.
"We need one more point to finish second and it's on us to earn it.
"Being in the fight for second is positive and a thing we have to value."