Madrid, May 12 (IANS) FC Barcelona were confirmed as the winners of the La Liga football late Saturday night without having to kick a ball as Real Madrid drew 1-1 away to Barca’s city neighbours, Espanyol.
The result means that Real Madrid can no longer reach Barca’s current total of 88 points, as with just three games remaining the maximum Jose Mourinho’s side can attain is 87, reports Xinhua.
Barca have now won four Spanish league titles in the past five seasons and will receive a guard of honor from their rivals Atletico Madrid when they take to the pitch for Sunday’s game away to Atletico in the Vicente Calderon Stadium.
This season they have won 28 of the 34 games they have played, drawing four and losing just twice.
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho had long given the league up as lost and clearly had the final of the Copa del Rey in mind as he began with a side containing no fewer than seven theoretical substitutes for the game and players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira and Sergio Ramos among the substitutes while others such as Kaka, Alvaro Morata and Ricardo Carvalho were all in the side.
Madrid had a balance of eight goals in favor and none against in their last three visits to Espanyol’s stadium, but that changed after 22 minutes when Cristian Stuani opened the scoring after Madrid had failed to deal with a corner.
Part of the reason for that was that Madrid’s impressive young defender, Rafael Varane had just been replaced by Xabi Alonso after suffering what looked like a nasty ankle injury that could well keep him out of the cup final.
It should have been 2-0 after 28 minutes but Hector Moreno saw a goal harshly ruled out for a supposed foul following a corner.
With his side creating little in attack, Mourinho brought Karim Benzema on at halftime and Ronaldo 10 minutes later and Madrid were level after 58 minutes as Gonzalo Higuain head home a free kick following a foul on Ronaldo.
Espanyol ended up with 10 men after former Barca midfielder Victor Sanchez was shown a 90th minute red card for a nasty foul on Higuain, but Ronaldo sliced the resulting free kick into the stands.
That was Madrid’s last chance, while across town the Barca fans were able to start their celebrations.
Athletic Club Bilbao kicked off the day with a 2-1 win at home to Mallorca. The win means Athletic are almost mathematically safe from the drop, while all but condemning their rivals to second division football next season.
Aritz Aduriz opened the scoring and then missed a penalty for Athletic, who had two goals wrongly ruled out by referee Hernandez-Hernandez and it was not until 12 minutes from time that Fernando Llorente doubled their lead.
The home fans, who packed the stands in the penultimate game in the San Mames Stadium, were unable to react, however, as just a minute later Geovani Dos Santos scored a free kick to keep them on edge until the final whistle.
Javi Guerra’s 48th minute goal was enough to give Valladolid a 1-0 win at home to Deportivo la Coruna and assure his side’s presence in the top flight next season, while leaving Deportivo rooted in the relegation zone after their first defeat in seven games.
Meanwhile Alejanado Arribas scored a header from a corner to give Osasuna their first home goal since February and with it a 1-0 home win over Getafe.
The win helps the side from Pamplona open up a four-point lead over Deportivo and the relegation zone.