Lewandowski scores 2 as Barca clinches La Liga title in road win over Espanyol
Madrid, May 14 (EFE).- Barcelona mathematically clinched this year’s La Liga title on Sunday with four weeks left to go in the season by grabbing a 4-2 road win from Espanyol, the tenor of the match established within the first 20 minutes on tallies by Robert Lewandowski and Alejandro Balde.
Even before getting the contest well in hand, Xavi Hernandez’s men felt confident that they had their first championship since 2019 and their 27th overall sewn up, given their significant lead in the La Liga table over their nearest challengers, defending champs Real Madrid and Atletico de Madrid.
It was only a question of which outing would be the one on which Barca would secure the title. Given that Carlo Ancelotti’s capital squad on Saturday had defeated Getafe 1-0, the Catalans knew they’d have to win on Sunday if they didn’t want to wait any longer to break out the cigars.
It was Hernandez’s first title win as Barca manager, and Espanyol – needing four points to get above the relegation threshold – posed little, if any, obstacle.
Lewandowski scored again in minute 40, his sixth brace of the La Liga campaign, and Jules Kounde got the team’s fourth tally a bit later, while Xavi Puado notched one for the home team 15 minutes before regulation time and Joselu sank another one in stoppage time.
After the win, Barca team captain Sergio Busquets told Movistar+ it was a “spectacular” performance by the squad at RCDE Stadium, saying “We’ve been a very strong, very solid … team. We’ve achieved the objective, fighting for it with very good times and others where we’ve suffered a lot, but that’s La Liga and that’s how a champion team makes itself.”
And Hernandez said at a post-match press conference, “I am very happy and proud,” noting that the title gives the team “credibility and stability” and adding that “The title means that the project is valid.”
In other action, Diego Simeone’s Atletico weren’t able to keep themselves in the No. 2 spot on the table, falling in a poor-performance 1-0 shocker to Elche, at the bottom of the La Liga teams and fated for relegation.
The only goal of the match was the work of Fidel Chaves in the 41st minute, coming after a serious mistake by Croatian netminder Ivo Grbic.
Antoine Griezmann wasn’t able to shine as in past matches, Alvaro Morata was unlucky against Edgar Badia and Elche simply didn’t take advantage of its other options but nevertheless came out with the win.
The loss puts Atletico two points behind Real Madrid, who – although they beat Getafe – had their minds more on returning to the Champions League semifinals in Manchester against Man City.
Sevilla, meanwhile, blanked Valladolid on the road 3-0, the first tally scored in minute 50 by Rafa Mir with a rebound off his chest from very close range, assisted by Gonzalo Montiel with a nice cross.
Papu Gomez scored goal No. 2 with a left-footed shot from the center of the box into the bottom left corner, on an assist by Nemanja Gudelj, with initial controversy about the strike but the tally verified after VAR review.
And three minutes into extra time, it was Jesus Corona firing a right-footer from box center into the bottom left corner, after the setup by Fernando.
Finally, Valencia downed Celta on the road 2-1, after Justin Kluivert got the visitors on the board first in the eighth minute, following which the initiative went back and forth multiple times until the home team’s Haris Seferovic found the twine in minute 60, and that’s where matters stood until Alberto Mari scored the go-ahead – and winning – tally two minutes before regulation time on a header, wherupon the Valencia contingent erupted in delirium.
The win put Valencia in 14th place, while Celta remains in 13th.