Tuesday 23 January 2018

Suarez stars as Barcelona retain their title

Barcelona’s Luis Suarez celebrates
Barcelona’s Luis Suarez celebrates

Jamie Holland

Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick as Barcelona retained their Primera Division title with a 3-0 victory at Granada meaning that Real Madrid's late-season charge came to nothing.

Suarez's first-half double put the defending champions in control and the Uruguay international confirmed Barca's 24th La Liga crown with his third goal four minutes from time.

Real, who entered the weekend just a point behind their fierce rivals, beat Deportivo La Coruna 2-0 courtesy of a Cristiano Ronaldo brace, but it proved in vain.

The Champions League finalists were on an 11-match winning streak in the league and were looking to capitalise on any further slip-up from the Catalans to steal top spot.

Barca, though, were not made to pay for their mini-slump in April, which brought three Primera Division defeats in a row, as they secured a fifth successive victory and a sixth title in eight years.

After a nervy start at Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes, Suarez eased the tension with a 21st-minute goal, and added a second just before the break.

Granada kept battling but Suarez ended any hope they, and Zinedine Zidane's Real, had of a comeback with an 86th-minute tap-in after unselfish work from Neymar.

The hat-trick also allowed Suarez to win his battle with Ronaldo in the race to clinch the Trofeo Pichichi - the league's top scorer - with 40 goals.

Madrid's talisman did do his best to breathe life into the title tussle with his own first-half double at Deportivo, but his 34th and 35th goals of the La Liga campaign were merely a consolation.

In Italy, Gonzalo Higuain wrote himself into the Serie A record books as his hat-trick fired Napoli to a 4-0 win over 10-man Frosinone that sealed a second-placed finish.

Higuain's 19-minute second-half treble made him the first man to score 36 goals in a Serie A campaign, ahead of AC Milan's Gunnar Nordahl, who got 35 in 1949-50.

It was also a night to remember for Marek Hamsik, who put himself alongside Diego Maradona in scoring 81 league goals for Napoli - the second highest in the club's history.

Napoli's win saw them fight off competition for second spot from Roma, who were 3-1 winners at AC Milan.

Outgoing striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic became Paris St Germain's top-scorer in a Ligue 1 season after marking his final appearance at the Parc des Princes with a brace in the champions' 4-0 win over Nantes.

Stuttgart were relegated to the German second division for the first time in 41 years and only the second time in their history after being beaten 3-1 by Wolfsburg.

Irish Independent

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