Friday 9 December 2016

More Messi magic secures title for brilliant Barcelona

Jonathan Wilson

Published 18/05/2015 | 02:30

Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's opening goal during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona at Vicente Calderon Stadium (Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's opening goal during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona at Vicente Calderon Stadium (Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Lionel Messi of Barcelona takes on Diego Godin of Atletico Madrid during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona at Vicente Calderon Stadium (Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Barcelona's Lionel Messi heads the ball during their Spanish first division soccer match against Atletico Madrid at Vicente Calderon (REUTER/Juan Medina)
Barcelona's Lionel Messi kicks the ball during their Spanish first division soccer match against Atletico Madrid at Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, Spain (REUTER/Juan Medina)

Lionel Messi scored the goal that clinched the Spanish league title for Barcelona last night, securing a 1-0 win at dethroned champions Atletico Madrid.

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Messi slotted in the decisive goal in the 65th minute after working a sublime one-two with Pedro Rodriguez, who started in place of the injured Luis Suarez.

It was the Catalans' 23rd league crown and their seventh in the last 11 years as they re-established themselves as Spain's dominant club.

After failing to winning a major title last season, Luis Enrique's side can now focus on the final of the Champions League and the Copa del Rey as they aim for a treble.

"We're very happy with this glorious era with so many titles," said midfielder Sergio Busquets. "Last year we weren't up to the challenge to win any competitions, but this year we are on a good path and this is only the first.

Historic

"This winning era hasn't ended. What Pep Guardiola started with Messi, Xavi, Iniesta is still going. We have one title now and are two more wins away from a historic season."

Real Madrid will finish runners-up despite Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a hat-trick in a 4-1 win at Espanyol.

They trail Barcelona by four points with one round left.

Atletico, who won the title last year in a winner-takes-all finale at Barcelona, were left in third place.

With Suarez out nursing a left hamstring injury, Messi moved into the centre of Barcelona's attack and had four shots in the first 20 minutes. He first sent two efforts into the hands of goalkeeper Jan Oblak before firing high and heading a ball off the arm of Juanfran Torres in the area, which went unpunished by the referee.

Messi next clipped the crossbar with a free-kick in the 34th before Dani Alves' dipping strike from long range forced Oblak to tap it over his bar just before half-time.

Barcelona kept up the pressure until Messi and Pedro finally broke down Atletico's defence, when the Argentina forward took three stunning touches in the area to fire the ball inside the post for his 41st league goal of the season - and his 54th in as many games in all competitions.

Ronaldo's goals - he leads the league with 45 - were once again not enough for Madrid to better Messi's Barcelona, and Carlo Ancelotti's team will end the season without a major title.

Atletico's defeat means they can be removed from third place by Valencia on the last day, given Los Che are only three points behind and trail Los Rojiblancos by a single strike in the goal-difference charts.

But a 1-1 draw with Celta Vigo, which saw Nicolas Otamendi rescue a point after Pablo Hernandez's early opener, leaves Valencia vulnerable to Sevilla, who are one point shy in fifth following a 2-1 victory over Almeria.

Vicente Iborra scored twice for the Andalusians to cancel out Thievy's first-half strike.

Athletic Bilbao mounted a late comeback to edge Elche 3-2 and move into seventh place.

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