Barcelona win Spain's La Liga title

Barca lift title after nervy 1-1 draw at Levante.

    Ronaldo's seven goals in two matches did not burst Barca's bubble at the season's end [GALLO/GETTY]

    Barcelona drew 1-1 draw at Levante on Wednesday to seal their third consecutive La Liga title and the 21st in the club's history.

    Barca have 92 points with two matches left, six ahead of second-placed Real Madrid who beat Getafe 4-0 on Tuesday, and Pep Guardiola's side hold the advantage in games between the two sides.

    Seydou Keita headed the visitors in front after 28 minutes but a terrible mix-up between defender Gerard Pique and keeper Victor Valdes led to Felipe Caicedo equalising just before halftime.

    A far from comfortable Barca held on for a point and can now focus on the Champions League final against Manchester United at Wembley on May 28.

    "This isn't about today, it is about nine months of hard work, emotions and suffering. We deserved it today," striker David Villa told Spanish radio as he basked in his first league triumph.

    "You can see how pleased we all are, above all because of all the work we have done."

    Winning the title at the Ciutat de Valencia was particularly significant as it was where former coach Frank Rijkaard landed his first crown with Barca in 2005.

    A 1-1 draw at Levante ended six trophyless years for the club that season and set in motion a cycle of success which Guardiola built on when he replaced the Dutchman in 2008.

    Barca have now won five of the last seven Spanish championships.

    The 40-year-old Guardiola, in his first top-flight coaching role, has picked up nine trophies in three years including three league titles, one European Cup and one King's Cup.

    High drama

    There was also high drama at the bottom of the standings, where 19th-placed Hercules (34 points) let slip a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home Real Mallorca and were relegated.

    Real Zaragoza occupy the last relegation slot in 18th with 39 points, one behind Getafe and safety, after conceding a last-minute goal to lose 2-1 at Real Sociedad.

    Osasuna pulled off a thrilling comeback to beat Sevilla 3-2 with breakaway goals from Kike Sola and Dejan Lekic in the last five minutes and they climbed to 14th on 44 points.

    Valencia's 2-2 draw with Espanyol and Villarreal's 0-0 draw with Almeria meant there was no change in the race for the European places.

    Valencia are third with 67 points and Villarreal fourth with 62 in the Champions League qualification spots, while Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid occupy the three Europa League slots after all three lost.

    Tuesday's matches

    Ronaldo scored a hat-trick to led Real Madrid to a 4-0 home win over Getafe on Tuesday, cutting the lead on their arch-rivals back to five points with two games left to play.

    Pep Guardiola's Catalan side can now wrap up their third consecutive league crown in front of their travelling support on Wednesday night.

    European Champions League finalists Barca have 91 points to Real's 86 and hold the head-to-head advantage over Jose Mourinho's team should they finish level on points next week.

    Getafe slipped closer to the relegation places in 17th with 40 points, one ahead of 18th-placed Real Zaragoza, who visit fellow strugglers Real Sociedad on Wednesday.

    Deportivo Coruna's 2-1 comeback win over Athletic Bilbao pulled them out of the bottom three up to 14th with 42 points.

    Racing Santander also recovered to win 2-1 at home to Atletico Madrid to go ninth on 46 with Malaga were one point behind them in 10th after a 2-0 win at Sporting Gijon.

    Real record

    Ronaldo closed to within two goals of Real Madrid's club record of 38 for a season, held by Hugo Sanchez, with his seventh goal in four days having bagged four in Saturday's 6-2 demolition of Sevilla.

    The Portugal forward outjumped two defenders to head the opener in the 24th minute from Mesut Ozil's superb curling cross with the outside of his left boot.

    The German playmaker also laid on Ronaldo's second after a swift counter-attack in the 57th.

    Substitute Karim Benzema then guided in Xabi Alonso's long pass before Ronaldo sealed his hat-trick with a penalty in added time, taking his league tally for the season to an unrivalled 36 goals, ahead of Barcelona's Lionel Messi with 31.

    "I'm in good form. I am fighting to win the top scorers' award but I am not obsessed with it," Ronaldo told Spanish television.

    Racing were all but assured of La Liga football next season with their win over Europa League-chasing Atletico after an emotional pre-match tribute to former fan and local resident Seve Ballesteros.

    The Spanish golfer, a five-times major winner, died aged 54 on Saturday after a struggling to overcome a brain tumour diagnosed in 2008.

    Both teams walked out at the Sardinero stadium with shirts dedicated to Ballesteros, while a group of children carried a giant photo of him into the centre circle, for a minute's silence before kickoff.

    Although Mario Suarez scored first for Atletico, goals from Kennedy Bakircioglu and Markus Rosenberg ensured the match finished with huge celebrations from the home fans.

    Malaga were fired to their fifth consecutive win by in-form Brazilian forward Julio Baptista, who scored his seventh goal in five matches with a spectacular mid-air scissors volley.

    Deportivo, champions in 2000 and European regulars in the early part of the last decade, pulled away from trouble courtesy of Adrian Lopez's effort, which was diverted into his own net by Bilbao's Carlos Gurpegui, and a Xabi Castillo own goal.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    All Hail The Algorithm

    All Hail The Algorithm

    A five-part series exploring the impact of algorithms on our everyday lives.

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    Prince Philip has done the world an extraordinary service by exposing the racist hypocrisy of "Western civilisation".

    China will determine the future of Venezuela

    China will determine the future of Venezuela

    There are a number of reasons why Beijing continues to back Maduro's government despite suffering financial losses.