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Barcelona are La Liga champs again


Barcelona are La Liga champs again

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Lionel Messi scored the goal that clinched the Spanish football league title for Barcelona on Sunday, securing a 1-0 win at dethroned champions Atletico Madrid.

As he has all season, Messi’s team-leading 41 goals powered the Catalan club to their 23rd league crown and seventh in the last 11 years as they re-established themselves as the dominant Spanish club of the past decade.

Messi slotted in the decisive goal in the 65th minute after working a sublime one-two passing combination with Pedro Rodriguez, who started for the injured Luis Suarez.

A year after not winning a major title, Luis Enrique’s side can now focus on the final of the Champions League and the Copa del Rey as they aim for a treble of trophies.

“We’re very happy of this glorious era with so many titles,” said Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets. “Last year we weren’t up to the challenge to win any competitions, but this year we are on a good path and this is only the first. This winning era hadn’t ended. What Pep Guardiola started with Messi, Xavi, Iniesta is still going. We have one title now and are two more wins away from a historic season.”

Real Madrid will finish runners-up despite Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a hat trick in a 4-1 win at Espanyol. They trail Barcelona by four points with one round left.

Atletico, which won the title last year in a winner-take-all finale at Barcelona, were left in third place.