Barcelona win 2nd straight La Liga ti­tle

Pakistan Observer - - SPORTS -

BARCELONA (Spain)—Barcelona left it late - very late - but fi­nally res­cued its sea­son by pulling off five straight vic­to­ries to clinch its sec­ond straight Span­ish league ti­tle on Satur­day.

There was as much relief as joy when Barcelona de­feated Granada 3-0 in the last round, with a hat trick by league top scorer Luis Suarez. That meant Barcelona fin­ished one point ahead of Real Madrid, which fell short de­spite win­ning its last 12 league games.

Barcelona avoided what would have been a dis­as­trous ti­tle loss af­ter it led fierce ri­val Madrid by 12 points with nine rounds to go.

‘’We had to work re­ally hard and suf­fered un­til the end,’’ said Barcelona mid­fielder An­dres Ini­esta, who now has eight Span­ish league ti­tles along with Lionel Messi and for­mer player Xavi Her­nan­dez. ‘’We strug­gled a bit af­ter we opened a very good ad­van­tage, but in the end it’s the most reg­u­lar team that wins the league.’’

Madrid de­feated De­portivo 2-0 on Satur­day with two goals by Cris­tiano Ron­aldo, but it needed Barcelona to stum­ble in or­der to clinch its first ti­tle since 2012.

Af­ter the final whis­tle in Granada, Barcelona play­ers formed a cir­cle near the benches and jumped up and down while chant­ing ‘’Cam­pe­ones, Cam­pe­ones.’’

Sev­eral hun­dred fans from both teams came onto the pitch as play­ers strug­gled to find their way off.

Thou­sands of Barcelona fans gath­ered in the city to cel­e­brate, although the club said the of­fi­cial pa­rade will take place on Sun­day evening.

Barcelona, which fin­ished with 91 points, has won six of the last eight Span­ish league ti­tles, and eight of the last 12. It has 24 ti­tles in to­tal, eight less than Real Madrid, the league’s most suc­cess­ful club.

‘’Six ti­tles in eight sea­sons says a lot about this gen­er­a­tion,’’ Ini­esta said.

Satur­day’s win guar­an­teed that Barcelona will win at least one tro­phy in a sea­son in which it started bril­liantly but strug­gled at the end. The team’s hopes of re­peat­ing its tre­ble from a year ago ended when it was elim­i­nated by Atletico Madrid in the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Cham­pi­ons League. It can still win the Copa del Rey in next week­end’s final against Sevilla.

‘’It is a well-de­served ti­tle,’’ Barcelona coach Luis En­rique said. ‘’The league is a tour­na­ment that re­wards reg­u­lar­ity, and we were in the lead for sev­eral weeks, play­ing very good foot­ball.’’

Third-placed Atletico, which chal­lenged Barcelona for most of the sea­son, dropped out of con­tention af­ter a sur­prise loss to last-place Le­vante in the pre­vi­ous round.

Real Madrid and Atletico will still play the Cham­pi­ons League final on May 28 in Mi­lan.

Barcelona didn’t have any trou­ble se­cur­ing its vic­tory at Granada, which had al­ready es­caped rel­e­ga­tion and had lit­tle to play for in the final round.

Suarez opened the scor­ing from close range in the 22nd minute af­ter a pass by Jordi Alba, added to the lead with a header in the 38th off a cross by Dani Alves, and net­ted his third af­ter a set up by Ney­mar in­side the area in the 86th.

Suarez, who has scored 14 goals in the last five games, fin­ished the league as the top scorer with 40 goals, five more than Ron­aldo. Lionel Messi was third with 26. Ron­aldo scored in the seventh and 25th min­utes to leave Madrid op­ti­mistic in La Coruna, but as Barcelona in­creased its lead in Granada, it be­came clear that Zine­dine Zi­dane’s team would fall short of the ti­tle.

‘’We are all dis­ap­pointed,’’ Zi­dane said. ‘’But we did what we had to do. I’m proud of this team, the play­ers fought un­til the end.’’ There was a mo­ment of si­lence be­fore the match in La Coruna in mem­ory of Madrid fans who died in an at­tack in Iraq on Fri­day.

Madrid has won the league only once in the last eight sea­sons. It was the eighth oc­ca­sion that Barcelona and Madrid had ar­rived at the final round fight­ing each other for the ti­tle, with Barcelona win­ning seven times.—AP

FC Barcelona’s Luis Al­berto Suarez cel­e­brates with team­mates Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba af­ter scor­ing against Granada dur­ing a Span­ish La Liga soc­cer match between Granada and Barcelona at Los Carmenes sta­dium in Granada, Spain.

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