Barcelona wrap up 23rd La Liga crown with Messi goal

Catalan giants "Barca" win the Spanish La Liga title for the 23rd time in history

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Treble-chasing Barcelona are La Liga champions for the fifth time in seven years after a clinical Lionel Messi strike secured a 1-0 victory away to Atletico Madrid that wrapped up the title with a game to spare on Sunday.

Cristiano Ronaldo hit a record-extending 26th La Liga hat-trick for Real Madrid in their 4-1 victory away to Espanyol but Barca cannot be caught now with a four point lead.

Messi combined with Pedro Rodriguez and then slotted home from the centre of the penalty area with 65 minutes gone.

It had been a cagey game but the talent of the Argentine shone through again to break the deadlock and help Luis Enrique to his first piece of silverware at the helm ofBarcelona.

The Catalan side have dominated the list of La Liga titles in recent years and remain on course to repeat their trophy treble of 2009.

They are through to the Champions League final on June 6 to face Juventus and will play Athletic Bilbao in the King's Cup showpiece on May 30.

"Last year was tough for us and we were not good enough to be champions but this year we are doing well," midfielder Sergio Busquets told reporters.

"This is the first trophy for us and we are going to celebrate it as it is the most difficult tournament because we face all the teams.

"It is the most important although the Champions League is the most prestigious," he added.

Barcelona were missing Luis Suarez from their devastating attacking trio due to a hamstring injury with Pedro stepping into the forward line.

Atletico provided their usual aerial threat and keeper Claudio Bravo clawed away a Jose Maria Gimenez header from a corner early on while Messi wasted a golden chance with a weak header in front of goal that went straight to keeper Jan Oblak.

The game settled into a contest where Barca had plenty of possession, but lacked precision in the final third of the pitch, against an Atletico side that looked to soak up the pressure.

The gaps were beginning to emerge in the Atletico backline as Barca continued to press and Messi found space after playing a one-two with Pedro before finding the back of the net.

Minutes later Messi assisted Neymar who could have doubled their advantage but the Brazilian's shot flew over the crossbar.