Barcelona say goodbye to Luis Enrique with a win but Real Madrid clinch title

Camp Nou’s scoreboard had not registered one minute for Barcelona’s final game of the season against Eibar when Cristiano Ronaldo put Real Madrid ahead in Malaga.

The Portuguese became the first player in history to score 40-plus goals in seven consecutive seasons.

News of the goal began to seep through at Camp Nou, briefly flattening the noise that had built pre-match as a homage to outgoing manager Luis Enrique.

Along the side of the pitch, a large flag had been unfurled from the second tier with the message: “Forever one of us. Forever Lucho”.

Behind one goal, another huge flag showed a picture of the Asturian as a Barca player and then as manager.

He was an unqualified success in both roles.

As the fans began to sing Enrique’s name, another flag read: “You’ll always be one of us.”

Chants for the man who had been unveiled three years to the day continued throughout the game.

Enrique won the treble in his first season, the double in his second. His team are in the Copa del Rey final this season, too, but there was still a slight hope that they could make it three consecutive league titles.

Slight became implausible when Takashi Inui put Eibar ahead after seven minutes, striking the ball first time from a cross into the roof of the net to make him the first Japanese player to score at Camp Nou.

It could have killed the noise and the hope, but Barca’s fans got louder.

Perhaps they realised that their chance of winning the title on the final day was always a tiny one.

A Madrid side who had won their previous nine away games, scoring 33 goals in those games, had to lose at Malaga.

Whatever Madrid did, Barca had to win themselves.

Given they were on an 11-game home winning streak in the league, their best record in four years, few doubted any other result, yet they struggled to overcome an Eibar side who have been an outstanding success this term.

The league’s smallest club, with stadium seating only 6,000, are comfortable in 10th in the league table.

They looked comfortable against Barca, too, though there were frequent scares.

When Luis Suarez finished a counter attack with a shot wide after nine minutes, Barca’s luck seemed to have run out.

The Uruguayan did put the ball in the net after 13 minutes, but a flag had already gone up for offside.

He shot wide again on 35 minutes with the type of chance he would normally convert.

Three minutes before half time, another chance was scuppered when the sole of Andres Iniesta’s boot connected with the ball when he intended it to be his heel.

As the second half in Malaga and Barcelona started, both Malaga and Barca needed to score twice for the Catalans to win the league, but the ball kept going wide for Barca.

Lionel Messi was set up by Suarez after 55 minutes and placed the ball wide of Yoel’s goal.

Seconds later, news of Karim Benzema’s goal in Malaga spread around Camp Nou.

The champions were about to relinquish their crown to their greatest rivals.

Then Eibar made it 2-0 on the hour. Inui again, wth another superb strike.

Barca finally scored after 63 minutes, a Neymar shot bouncing of the post and into the path of David Junca, who put the ball into his own net.

Barca were awarded a 69th-minute penalty after a foul on Jordi Alba, but Messi’s shot was pushed onto the bar.

Suarez poked a 73rd-minute goal in to equalise with his 29th league strike of the season.

Messi scored a 75th-minute penalty after Neymar appeared to be fouled as Barca finally moved in front. The Argentine made it four with an incredible run from the halfway line in the 93rd minute.

It was a fine comeback, but the three points were not enough.

Madrid are champions for the first time since 2012.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *