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Suarez leads Barca to second straight La Liga title

Suarez leads Barca to second straight La Liga title

BARCELONA: A ravenous Luis Suarez bagged a third hat-trick in five games as defending champions Barcelona won 3-0 at Granada to clinch their 24th La Liga title on Saturday.

The Uruguayan converted Jordi Alba’s low pass in the 22nd minute to give Barca the lead. He then headed in Dani Alves’ cross in the 38th before tapping Neymar;s pass into an empty net in the 86th.

“We were on top of the table for many weeks and the most consistent team wins the title,” coach Luis Enrique told a news conference.

“We will celebrate this, we enjoy our team and the style in which they play. We must value each title win because it is worth a lot.”

Suarez finished the season as La Liga’s top scorer with 40 goals, breaking Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s grip on the honour since 2009.

Barca ended with 91 points, one ahead of Real Madrid who won 2-0 at Deportivo La Coruna and needed Barca to stumble in order to clinch their first title since 2012.

Ronaldo scored twice for Real to reach 50 goals in all competitions for the sixth consecutive season.

He was substituted at halftime after hurting his foot but there is no suggestion he could miss the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid in two weeks’ time.

Goals from Fernando Torres and Antoine Griezmann gave Atletico Madrid a 2-0 win over Celta Vigo while Athletic Bilbao beat Sevilla 3-1.
GRANADA: Barcelona’s Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring during the La Liga match against Granada at the Nuevo Los Carmenes Stadium.—AFP

Atletico finished third on 88 points and Bilbao secured a place in the Europa League by ending up in fifth spot.

With attention on Wednesday’s Europa League final against Liverpool, Sevilla coach Unai Emery put out a heavily-rotated team.

After the final whistle in Granada, Barca 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.

Saturday’s win guaranteed that Barcelona will win at least one trophy in a season in which they started brilliantly but struggled at the end.

The team’s hopes of repeating their treble from a year ago ended when they were eliminated by Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

They can still win the Copa del Rey in next weekend’s final against Sevilla.

In La Liga, Barca had seemed set to cruise to the title until a run of three consecutive defeats for the first time in 13 years last month.
LA CORUNA: Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale gestures during the La Liga match against Deportivo La Coruna at the Riazor Stadium.—AP

However, they bounced back like champions as, inspired by Suarez’s 14 goals, they scored 24 times without reply in the last five games to win the title.

“We are deserving champions,” said Suarez. “We had to suffer, the pressure was put on us in the final few games, but this team is built to win titles.”

Real;s record 12-game winning streak to end the season wasn’t enough to overcome the 12-point deficit they faced to Barca back in March.

“I am very proud of the players and what we have done,” said Real boss Zinedine Zidane. “We never gave up and we fought until the end.”

Real got off to an ideal start at Deportivo when Gareth Bale manoeuvred his way past a defender on the left and cut the ball back to Karim Benzema who squared it for Ronaldo to score in the seventh minute.

The Portugal striker’s second in the 25th minute had an element of good fortune, his header from a corner bouncing off Deportivo’s Pedro Mosquera on its way into the net.

Ronaldo also hit the post and the crossbar before being replaced by James Rodriguez although there was no suggestion he had an injury before the Champions League final against Atletico on May 28 in Milan.

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.

Atletico, who challenged Barca for most of the season, dropped out of contention after a surprise loss to last-placed Levante in the previous round but they finished just three points behind Barca after their win over Celta who finished the season in sixth.

Torres hooked home the opener in spectacular fashion from Koke’s corner and nearly repeated the trick with a similar effort three minutes later which came back off the bar and fell invitingly for Griezmann to head home his 32nd goal of the season.

Courtesy : Dawn News



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