FC Barcelona retained their Liga title in their own inimitable style with Lionel Messi scoring twice in a 4-0 victory against Real Valladolid CF that rendered Real Madrid CF's result at Málaga CF, a 1-1 draw as it transpired, meaningless.
Signs of nervousness among Barcelona's players were nonetheless apparent early on when Carles Puyol had to perform a last-ditch block to deny Manucho following a Víctor Valdés error. Calm was ultimately restored when relegation-threatened Valladolid handed their hosts the opener on 27 minutes, Luis Prieto diverting Pedro Rodríguez's cross past his own goalkeeper under no pressure. Four minutes later and the champagne could truly be put on ice as Pedro slipped his finish between Jacobo's legs after Messi had scythed through the visiting midfield.
Yaya Touré was the chief creator after the interval, first beating two players and crossing for Messi to tap in then playing his part in a final goal that summed up the brilliance of Barça. The midfielder's pinpoint pass found Messi and the striker tiptoed beyond two defenders before stroking a sublime finish into the corner for his 34th league goal of the campaign and 47th in all competitions – equalling the tally reached by Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo in 2008 during his spell at Manchester United FC.
Madrid could, therefore, only finish a point shy of the Blaugrana's record Liga haul of 99, yet even that was denied them by a Málaga side that stayed up courtesy of their draw against Manuel Pellegrini's outfit, Rafael van der Vaart (48) levelling for the visitors after Duda's ninth-minute opener.
Valladolid, Málaga, Real Racing Club and CD Tenerife all started the final day on 36 points, with Xerez CD three points back and all three relegation places still to be decided. Racing were the only winners of the five, surviving as a result of their 2-0 home success against Real Sporting de Gijón, and Málaga's point also proved decisive thanks to Valladolid's reverse and a 1-0 defeat for Tenerife at third-placed Valencia CF. Xerez finished bottom after drawing 1-1 at CA Osasuna.
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|Last updated: 02/07/2011 04:16 CET|
David López 55 (p)
García del Pozo 42