Reuters

Soccer-Barca retain La Liga title with crushing win

Sun, 16 May 20:29:00 2010

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What had promised to be a nerve-wracking finish to the La Liga season for Barcelona ended up being a stroll in the park as they retained the title with a 4-0 victory at home to Real Valladolid on Sunday.

The trophy was Barca's to lose as they started the day with a one point lead over Real Madrid and the head-to-head advantage in their favour, but they held their nerve in front of a packed an expectant Nou Camp.

Pedro forced Valladolid's Luis Prieto into scoring an own goal after 27 minutes and soon after he doubled the lead from a Lionel Messi pass.

Argentine World Player of the Year Messi wrapped up the victory with a double in the second half, taking his tally for the season to 34.

Barca finished the season with a Spanish league record of 99 points, three ahead of Real Madrid who were held to a 1-1 draw at Malaga, Rafael can der Vaart equalising for the visitors in the second half.

Malaga's draw saved them from them from drop but Valladolid were sent down to the second division along with Tenerife who lost 1-0 at Valencia, and Xerez who drew 1-1 at Osasuna. Barca started incredibly nervously and allowed Valladolid's Manucho to dally in front of the open goal before Carles Puyol got back in time to block the shot.

The visitors won a string of corners and Barca struggled to settle, missing the calming influence of suspended playmaker Xavi.

DUDA GOAL

Cheers spread round the Nou Camp after nine minutes as news filtered through that Malaga's Duda had netted against Real and Barca's jitters subsided.

Pedro cut to the byeline and crossed low to the near post and without a Barca player near him Prieto deflected the ball past his own keeper and the hosts were on their way.

A busy Messi set up the second soon after, spreading the ball to his right for Pedro to nutmeg Jacobo in the one-on-one.

Van der Vaart finally found a way past inspired Malaga goalkeeper Gustavo Munua to level at the Rosaleda just after the re-start, but it soon became irrelevant.

Back at the Nou Camp, Yaya Toure powered to the byeline in the 62nd minute to cross, Pedro dummied, and Messi tapped in the third kicking off the title celebrations around the stadium.

Messi delighted the home fans by running through to score a solo effort in the 76th, but the festive atmosphere was not completed until the chants for Andres Iniesta to be given a run out were answered.

Five minutes from time the Spanish international, and crowd favourite, came on as a substitute after over a month out injured to a huge roar and all the players crowded together in a huddle to enjoy their victory with the fans at the end.

(Writing by Mark Elkington, editing by Pritha Sarkar. To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

 

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