Barca close on 100 points, lift La Liga trophy
MADRID, May 20 — Champions Barcelona moved a step closer to matching Real Madrid’s La Liga record of 100 points with a 2-1 win over Real Valladolid, that was the prelude to a title party at the Nou Camp yesterday.
Tito Vilanova’s side wrapped up their fourth league crown in five years last weekend, but still have the chance to equal the mark set by Jose Mourinho’s victorious side last season.
A 21st-minute strike from Pedro and an own-goal from Valladolid’s Marc Valiente before halftime sealed a drab victory in unseasonably chilly and wet conditions in a two-thirds full stadium.
Valladolid pulled one back from the penalty spot through Victor Perez at the end.
Barca climbed on to 94 points with two games left to play, away to city rivals Espanyol next weekend and at home to Malaga on June 1st.
“We are pleased with the win. We are playing with the motivation of trying to reach 100 points which would be something important,” Pedro told Spanish broadcaster Canal Plus.
Goalkeeper Victor Valdes, who has said he wants to leave the Nou Camp, was back in the side after a foot injury and made his 500th official appearance for the club.
The Spain international is the fourth Barca player to reach the mark behind record holder Xavi, who has made 675 appearances, Carles Puyol and Migueli, and he had a quiet evening against a mid-table side with nothing left to play for.
Xavi intercepted a pass and fed Pedro who scored with a shot that went underneath a slow-to-react Jaime Jimenez and Valiente gave Barca a helping hand for the second as he lifted Xavi’s corner into his own goal off his thigh.
Barca were utterly dominant until Martin Montoya brought down Manucho for a penalty in the 89th minute and Perez sent Valdes the wrong way from the spot.
TITO AND ABI
Captain Puyol collected the La Liga tophy on the pitch after the game, but gave it to France defender Eric Abidal and Vilanova to jointly lift and present to the fans, while they were showered with red and blue pieces of paper.
“It’s been a hard year. We’ve won La Liga but the most important thing is that Tito and Abi are with us,” Puyol told fans speaking through a microphone on the pitch.
Vilanova and Abidal have both been fighting battles against cancer over the last year.
Rayo Vallecano stayed in the hunt for a Europa League place with a 3-2 win at Levante that put them eighth with 49 points.
Captain Piti scored twice, his second from the penalty spot, to take his tally for the season to 17.
At the foot of the standings, Deportivo Coruna boosted their hopes of avoiding relegation with a 2-0 win at home to Espanyol that dragged them out of the bottom three into 17th.
A fizzing long-range shot from Bruno Gama flew in off the far post after 50 minutes, and his Portuguese compatriot Nelson Oliveira lobbed a second on a breakaway at the end.
Deportivo climbed on to 35 points with two games left to play, one ahead of Real Zaragoza, who dropped down to 18th, after a 2-1 defeat at home to Athletic Bilbao.
Portugal striker Helder Postiga had given Zaragoza an early lead with a looping header, but after spurning a host of chances they conceded twice in the last 10 minutes.
Fernando Llorente scrambled an equaliser and in added time Ibai Gomez netted with a clever backheel finish.
Zaragoza slipped into the danger zone with 34 points and Celta Vigo are 19th with 31.
Basement side Real Mallorca, with 29 points, play their game in hand at Real Betis today, and need at least a draw to avoid the drop as they have an inferior head-to-head record with Deportivo. – Reuters