MADRID, May 16, 2010 (AFP) - Barcelona made it four league titles in six seasons as they retained the La Liga crown on the final day of the season with a 4-0 win over Valladolid on Sunday to finish three points ahead of arch-rivals Real Madrid.
Barcelona knew one more win would see them crowned champions and after a nervous start the Catalans coasted to victory with Lionel Messi scoring a brace for his 33rd and 34th goals of a terrific season.
|Barcelona's players celebrate after scoring during the Spanish League football match against Valladolid at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on May 16, 2010. AFP photo|
Ballon D'Or winner Messi, 22, wins his first Pichichi trophy for the league's top-scorer while Barcelona's 99 points is the highest ever in the Spanish league.
"Real (Madrid) had a great season and made life tough for us but we fought hard to win this title with a huge points tally," said captain Carles Puyol.
"It is really nice to celebrate this title in front of our fans. We have had some difficult moments and they really helped us get through them."
Real Madrid drew 1-1 at Malaga as their 250-million euro spending frenzy failed to bring a single title for the second successive season.
It is a second league title in his two seasons at the helm for coach Pep Guardiola who also won the Spanish and European Super Cups in 2010 along with a first ever Club World Cup.
For Real their huge summer outlay on 'Galacticos' has proved in vain and the writing looks to be on the wall for coach Manuel Pellegrini with Inter Milan manager Jose Mourinho, who celebrated the Italian title on Sunday, strongly linked with the job.
"We can't say it's been a good season if we haven't won a title," admitted Pellegrini. "It is not easy making a team with a new coach and players but I can not evaluate my own work.
"I have one more year left on my contract and that's all there is to say."
Midfield playmaker Xavi was suspended for Barcelona on Sunday so Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure came in and Guardiola went with Bojan Krkic, Pedro and Messi in attack.
Barcelona had an early scare when Mateus Manucho forced a fine save from Victor Valdes in the fourth minute and nerves were jangling at Camp Nou.
However, Barca took the lead on 27 minutes when defender Luis Prieto sliced Pedro Rodriguez's harmless cross into his own net.
Four minutes later Messi released Pedro who slotted through the goalkeeper's legs for his 12th goal of the season.
At half-time Barcelona were almost home as Real failed to make a fight of it trailing 1-0 at Malaga.
Real fell behind on nine minutes with a neat back-heel from Salvador Caicedo releasing Sergio Duda to score.
Cristiano Ronaldo, on 26 goals for the season, had a header tipped over and a free-kick punched away in the first half.
Minutes after the break Real equalised through Rafael van der Vaart with the Dutch midfielder turning neatly and getting a snapshot away into the corner.
A draw would not have done for Real in any case and it didn't seem to matter as Messi scored to make it 3-0 against Valladolid on 61 minutes.
Yaya Toure made the goal with a surging run past two defenders and his perfect cut-back gave Messi the easiest of tap-ins.
Toure set up Messi again on 75 minutes with the Argentine's quick feet and shot making it 4-0 and 34 goals for the season.
Messi matches the record mark of Brazilian Ronaldo who scored 34 goals for Barcelona in the 1997 season.
The defeat meant Valladolid joined Xerez and Tenerife in being relegated while Malaga and Racing Santander, 2-0 winners over Sporting Gijon, survived.
Tenerife lost 1-0 at Valencia while Xerez drew 1-1 with Osasuna on Sunday.