It was a game everyone expected Barcelona to cruise, and at 2-0 up after 38 minutes, all the predictions appeared to be true.
Philippe Coutinho had put the visitors ahead with an exquisite first-time shot from Ousmane Dembele’s pass, and though Deport threatened, the game looked dead and buried once Lionel Messi grabbed his first of the night seven minutes before the break.
No doubt the Barca players thought so too, as they fell asleep at the back and allowed Lucas Perez to pull one back two minutes later.
When Emre Colak levelled on 64, it was the Galician’s in the ascendancy, and it was more by luck than judgment that Barca didn’t fall behind, as Clarence Seedorf’s side piled the pressure on.
Having to win the game to have any chance of survival, Depor kept streaming forward, but it proved to be their undoing.
Two more from Messi in three minutes between the 82nd and 85th killed off the hosts’ spirited fightback and saw a still-unbeaten Barca claim their seventh La Liga title in the last 10 years.
Zidane’s gamble pays off – just
Although rotation wouldn’t have been too much of a surprise, the sheer amount of players that Zinedine Zidane left out against Leganes might’ve had a few supporters thinking the worst.
Especially as Leganes had beaten an almost full strength Real in the Copa del Rey earlier in the season at the Santiago Bernabeu.
They needn’t have worried. Los Blancos’ reserves + Casemiro, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema had enough about them to deal with a Leganes side that were poor for the most part, and only came alive late in the game.
Bale did his future hopes of selection no harm at all with the opener on eight minutes, and within two minutes of Nordin Amrabat hitting the bar for the visitors, Borja Mayoral had made the game safe on the stroke of half time.
In the second half, Leganes came into the game a little more, and once Darko Brasanac had pulled one back on 66, from Amrabat’s assist, you could sense the sharp intake of breath in the stands.
Thereafter, the visitors tried everything to grab a point, but Real’s ‘second string’ managed to hold firm.
l Madrid C.F.
After this hefty local derby defeat, Kuko Ziganda must know his time as Athletic Club coach is coming to and end.
His side put up hardly any fight whatsoever at the Anoeta, and that won’t be acceptable to supporters who’ve suffered all season since Ernesto Valverde’s departure.
Los Leones afternoon started badly when Mikel San Jose put through his own net on the quarter hour, and things got progressively worse from then on.
Aritz Elustondo’s header almost made it two, the ball crashing back off of the crossbar, but Sociedad didn’t have to wait long. Two minutes in fact, before Mikel Oyarzabal, courtesy of an Adnan Januzaj assist, doubled the lead.
Another San Jose own goal put this one to bed, Raul Garcia’s 59th minute penalty nothing but a consolation.
Had Inaki William’s header on 63 gone in rather than finding the woodwork, it would’ve made the last half an hour interesting, but in truth Athletic wouldn’t have deserved anything more than what they finished up with.
Atletico manage a sixth 1-0 away win of the season
It’s a result that sums up Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid side.
A team that digs their heels in and goes to war when needed, and almost always come up with the goods at the other end.
This one looked like it might end with a point apiece, but Kevin Gamiero’s 78th minute penalty kept the Rojiblancos firmly in second place, four points ahead of local rivals Real.
Fernando Torres had already missed a spot-kick seven minutes previously, and Vitolo had seen his shot on the hour hit the post.
Credit has to go to the away side for continuing to knock on the door against a resolute Alaves.
For a team that were cut adrift in the division after nine games, Abelardo has worked wonders in Vitoria. But for running out of steam in the latter stages, the Basques would’ve deserved their point against one of the toughest teams in La Liga.
There’s a lot of positive aspects for both teams to take forward into the next campaign.
Atlético de Madrid
Valencia limp to goalless draw against Eibar
You could tell that this game was end of season fare, and frankly a training ground match between the first team and reserves would’ve provided more entertainment.
Neither side deserved to win, though the hosts did at least manage a dozen shots in the game. Less than half of those on target informs you of the lack of quality that was a recurring theme throughout.
The groans coming from the stands were loud and persistent. This isn’t what the supporters have been used to this season.
Valencia will still qualify for the Champions League next season, evidencing that 2017/18 has been a monumental success for Marcelino and his players, but the performance they gave on Sunday was akin to something from the Gary Neville era.
Dani Garcia was injured in the opening minute for Eibar, and twice in first-half injury time. Eventually replaced on 49, that was the most exciting thing to happen!