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La Liga: Messi breaks top scorer record; Real draw final game

Last updated on: July 20, 2020 00:47 IST
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Messi breaks top scorer record after Barca's 5-0 final day win

Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates with Jordi Alba and Ansu Fati after scoring their second goal against Deportivo Alaves at Estadio Mendizorroza, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, on Sunday

IMAGE: Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates with Jordi Alba and Ansu Fati after scoring their second goal against Deportivo Alaves at Estadio Mendizorroza, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, on Sunday. Photograph: Vincent West/Reuters
 
Lionel Messi finished as top scorer in La Liga for a record seventh time after netting twice as dethroned champions Barcelona ended their disappointing campaign on a high with a resounding 5-0 win at Alaves on Sunday.
 

Barca finished the season second in the standings on 82 points, five behind newly-crowned champions Real Madrid who drew 2-2 at Leganes later on Sunday. Alaves came 16th on 39.

Teenage forward Ansu Fati put Barca in front midway through the first half after the visitors hit the woodwork three times, while Messi and strike partner Luis Suarez further stretched their side’s lead before halftime.

Defender Nelson Semedo hit the fourth early in the second half before Messi struck again, ending the campaign on 25 league goals, four more than second-top scorer Karim Benzema of Real Madrid.

The Argentine, who also finished as top marksman for a fourth consecutive season, eclipsed the benchmark he previously shared with the late Telmo Zarra but said he would have rather have won the league.

“Individual prizes and objectives are secondary. It’s an important achievement to win it seven times but I would have liked it to have been accompanied by the La Liga title,” Messi said.

Barca’s captain had made headlines on Thursday following his angry post-match interview after the 2-1 loss to Osasuna, blasting the team as weak and inconsistent, also appearing to criticise the running of the club.

But he was in a happier mood after the dominant performance against Alaves, saying the team felt more confident ahead of next month’s Champions League last-16 second leg game with Napoli, which they host with the score tied at 1-1.

“Today we saw something else, it was a difficult game due to the situation we were in and the kick off time and heat but the team responded with a different attitude and showed great commitment,” Messi added.

“We took a long hard look at ourselves from the inside which is what we needed to do. We have not had a good season in terms of performances or results but today we took a step forward.

“It’s an important step for what’s coming next.”

Real Madrid draw final game to send opponents Leganes down

Newly-crowned La Liga champions Real Madrid were unable to maintain their perfect run of results since the season re-started as they drew 2-2 at neighbours Leganes, who were relegated on Sunday.

Real ended the campaign on 87 points after the draw interrupted a run of 10 consecutive victories, five clear of second-placed Barcelona.

Leganes finished 18th on 36 points, joining 19th-placed Real Mallorca and Espanyol in being relegated, while Celta Vigo, who finished on 37, stayed up after drawing 0-0 at Espanyol.

Sergio Ramos headed home his 11th league goal this season to put Real in front after nine minutes, as Zinedine Zidane heavily rotated his team following the 2-1 win over Villarreal on Thursday that clinched their first Liga title since 2017.

Leganes levelled on the stroke of halftime through midfielder Bryan Gil but Marco Asensio restored Real’s lead early in the second half.

Roger Assale equalised in the 78th to give Leganes a slither of hope of survival and they needed one more goal to pull off a miraculous escape from relegation.

They came agonisingly close to finding it, having a late penalty appeal turned down for handball against Luka Jovic after a VAR review.

Oscar Rodriguez then blasted over from inside the area deep in added time and the Madrid side dropped out of the top-flight for the first time since winning their maiden promotion to La Liga in 2016.

“Even though we didn’t get the result we wanted, the sacrifice was worth it and we are proud to have fought until the end,” said Leganes defender Unai Bustinza. “What we have done should be seen as an example that you should never give up.”

Bustinza also reflected on the fact his side lost their two main strikers at the start of the year, forced to sell Youssef En-Nesyri to Sevilla and then Martin Braithwaite to Barcelona in February after their buy-out clauses were triggered.

He added: “This year has been an uphill struggle because as well as the lockdown period we didn’t have that little bit of luck we needed and some very important players were taken away from us. We’ll do our best to get back up.”

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