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Barcelona retain the Spanish league title

Article Published: Monday 17 May 2010

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Barcelona retained the Spanish league title on Sunday, crushing Valladolid 4-0 at Camp Nou stadium in its final game of the season to win the championship for a 20th time.

Lionel Messi scored twice in the second half, adding to Luis Prieto's own goal and a strike from Pedro Rodriguez before halftime.

Barcelona finished its campaign with a record Spanish league tally of 99 points from 38 games, with coach Pep Guardiola celebrating the second league title in his two seasons in charge.

"It's true that we got a load of points; Real Madrid has had a good season and has made it really difficult for us. We battled and we achieved it," Barcelona captain Carles Puyol told Canal Plus.

Messi's goals took his league tally to 34 and his total in all competitions to 47 this season, equaling the club record set by Brazil's Ronaldo in 1996-97.

The Argentina international, who was the 2009 World Player of the Year, finished the season as the Spanish league's top scorer and won the Golden Boot, a prize awarded to Europe's top marksman.

Real Madrid drew 1-1 at Malaga to finish three points behind Barcelona. It is the second straight season that Madrid has failed to win a major trophy despite spending more than €250 million ($309 million) on players.

"We should congratulate Barcelona, a worthy champion. There were two teams who mounted tremendous runs, beating all the records but one started with a clear advantage today and was able to take advantage," Madrid general manager Jorge Valdano said.

Barcelona celebrated its title with fireworks, light and music at the stadium, with the players introduced individually to loud cheers from ecstatic fans.

Greeting the crowd, Guardiola said Barcelona's triumph was due "above all to the players." "They are unrepeatable. You've got to believe that they're unrepeatable. They make work easy," Guardiola said.

Guardiola later added that Barcelona's points record was the result of the pressure exerted by Madrid, whose 96-point total is the second highest in Spanish league history.

"If Madrid hadn't got so many points, we wouldn't have got so many. Madrid had an exceptional season," Guardiola said.

Valladolid's defeat meant it was relegated into the second division, along with Tenerife and Xerez.

Valladolid, led by former Spain coach Javier Clemente for the past month, made a bright start against a Barcelona side missing suspended playmaker Xavi Hernandez.

The home team then took control, coming close to taking the lead on several occasions before Valladolid defender Prieto inadvertently turned Pedro's low cross past his goalkeeper Jacobo Sanz in the 27th minute.

Barcelona doubled its lead four minutes later when Pedro fired his 12th goal of the season following a trademark burst by Messi.

The Argentina forward turned the ball home from close range for Barcelona's third goal in the 62nd after Yaya Toure beat two defenders in a charge into the area and fired a center across the face of the goal.

Messi doubled his tally 14 minutes later to crown a brilliant season, again receiving a pass from Toure before jinking past two defenders and slotting the ball home.

The introduction of Andres Iniesta as an 86th-minute substitute following a month's absence delighted Barcelona's jubilant supporters even further.

The match marked a happy finale for Barcelona president Joan Laporta, whose term of office is about to end. The club is holding elections on June 13.

"I feel really emotional because Barcelona and its supporters are experiencing great happiness. Personally, this title, because of all it signifies, touches me," Laporta, who became president in 2003, was quoted by Barcelona's Web site as saying.

Madrid, needing to achieve a better result than Barcelona to win the title, made a dismal start when Sergio "Duda" Barbosa sent a half-hit shot past goalkeeper Iker Casillas after playing a one-two with Felipe Caicedo in the ninth minute.

The visitor equalized in the 48th when Rafael van der Vaart, receiving Marcelo's pass, wriggled to escape the attention of Malaga defenders before shooting home.

Madrid's disappointing final game may have been the last in charge for its Chilean coach Manuel Pellegrini, who hinted on Saturday that he may be sacked in the near future.

Valladolid and Tenerife finished 36 points, two more than last-place Xerez.

Tenerife went down to Alexis Ruano's late goal at third-place Valencia, which ended the season with 72 points. Antonito Ramiro's 60th-minute equalizer in the 1-1 draw at Osasuna could not save Xerez.

In Sunday's other game, Racing Santander avoided relegation by beating Sporting Gijon 2-0 on Mohamed Tchite's goals in the 34th and 53rd minutes.

On Saturday, Sevilla claimed a place in next season's Champions League with a 3-2 win at Almeria, while Mallorca and Getafe won berths in the Europa League after beating Espanyol 2-0 and Atletico Madrid 3-0 respectively. Also, it was: Zaragoza 3, Villarreal 3; and Athletic Bilbao 2, Deportivo La Coruna 0.

Lionel Messi equaled Barcelona's scoring record by netting two goals in the final match of the season to help the club retain the Spanish league title on Sunday.

Argentina forward Messi struck in the 62nd and 76th minutes of Barcelona's 4-0 win over Valladolid at Camp Nou stadium to take his league tally to 34 goals - and his total in all competitions to 47.

Brazil striker Ronaldo scored the same amount of goals for the club in the 1996-97 season.

"Messi is the best I've ever seen. Without doubt. By a long way.

He's a one-off," Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said.

Only three other players have scored 30 or more league goals in a season for Barcelona - Mariano Martin, Romario and Samuel Eto'o.

Messi, the 2009 World Player of the Year, finished the season as the Spanish league's top scorer and won the Golden Boot, which goes to Europe's top marksman.

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