Barcelona wins Spanish league

Updated: 17 May 2009 17:03 IST

Barcelona won the Spanish league title for the first time in three years on Saturday.


Barcelona won the Spanish league title for the first time in three years on Saturday.

Barcelona's eight-point advantage became unassailable in the standings when its closest rival Real Madrid lost 3-2 at Villarreal.

Robert Pires, Ruben "Cani" Gracia and Joan Capdevila scored for Villarreal to sentence Madrid to its third straight defeat and leave the team to suffer its first trophyless season since 2005-06. Rafael van der Vaart and Gonzalo Higuain replied for last season's champion.

"The league is the fairest competition and a test of consistency and I think Barcelona deserved to win it," Madrid coach Juande Ramos said.

Barcelona, which plays at Mallorca on Sunday, has 86 points with three games left, while Madrid has 78 with two to play.

The 19th title in Barcelona's history was a triumph for 38-year-old coach Pep Guardiola, the club's former midfielder who was in his first season in charge.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta told the club's TV station that "reality had exceeded expectations."

"In footballing terms, it is one of the best seasons in Barcelona's history, in terms of play, titles and the general state of the club," Laporta said.

The title success completed Barcelona's first domestic double for 11 years. The team won the Copa del Rey last Wednesday.

"There are now five doubles in the history of the club and it's something which is marvelous and fabulous, an excellent moment for people to enjoy quietly and calmly," Laporta added.

Over 40,000 Barcelona supporters gathered to celebrate at Canaletes fountain on Las Ramblas, the traditional site for celebrating the club's wins, news agency Europa Press said. Some lit fireworks waved flags and scarves, and drank from bottles of cava.

Guardiola's team plays Manchester United in the Champions League final on May 27 and is aiming to become the first Spanish team to win the three trophies in a single season.

Madrid, which had conceded nine goals in its previous two losses, fell behind in the 17th minute when Pires beat goalkeeper Iker Casillas with a looping header from Ariel Ibagaza's left cross.

The visitors leveled at the start of the second half with Van der Vaart scoring from close range from substitute Higuain's pass.

Midfielder Cani restored Villarreal's lead in the 62nd, seizing on a mistake by Fabio Cannavaro in the penalty area and firing home.

Higuain equalized in the 88th from what appeared to be an offside position, only for Capdevila to win the game after Casillas dropped a corner kick.

Madrid's final games are against Mallorca and Osasuna before it turns its attention to selecting a new president in June. Former incumbent Florentine Perez, the only confirmed candidate so far, is expected to make a strong showing.

"It's fair to recognize that Barcelona has had a really great season. I congratulate it for its campaign and for the title it has obtained," Madrid's interim president told La Sexta TV station.

Villarreal's victory lifted it to fifth place with 59 points, level with fourth-place Valencia.

Also on Saturday, third-place Sevilla remained on course for a place in next season's Champions League despite being held to 0-0 by lowly Osasuna.

With two matches to play, Sevilla has 64 points and was five points clear of Valencia. Valencia visits Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

Elsewhere, a late goal by Ivan "Riki" Sanchez Rico brought Deportivo La Coruna a 1-1 draw against lowly visitors Getafe. Getafe scored in the 46th minute through Roberto Soldado's header.

Sunday's other games are: Real Betis vs. Almeria; Espanyol vs. Athletic Bilbao; Numancia vs. Recreativo Huelva; Racing Santander vs. Valladolid; and Sporting Gijon vs. Malaga.

Topics : Football Valencia Lionel Andres Messi Barcelona
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