La Liga

Espanyol relegated
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Suarez goal gives Barcelona win, relegates neighbors Espanyol

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Seventh-place one season ago, La Liga mainstays Espanyol are being relegated from Spain’s top flight.

The final decision came at the hands of their Catalan neighbors Barcelona, who got a second-half goal from Luis Suarez to relegate Espanyol.

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Espanyol are 11 points back of 17th place and can only capture nine more points this season following the 1-0 loss in a match where both teams had a player sent off.

Suarez’s goal was a nice one after Antoine Griezmann’s back heel pass to Lionel Messi saw the Argentine’s shot deflect onto the path of the Uruguayan finisher.

Espanyol had been in the top flight since 1994 and has only spent four single seasons outside La Liga since 1929. Leganes and Mallorca may join them soon.

Barcelona moves a point back of Real Madrid. Real has four matches left to Barca’s three and holds the tiebreaker.

Bartomeu vows Messi will finish career at Barcelona

Messi staying with Barcelona
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Lionel Messi will finish his career at Barcelona, says embattled president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

The exit clause in Messi’s latest Barcelona contract expired on June 1, putting a temporary end to worries that the world’s top player would leave a messy Barcelona season.

Messi, 33, is still near the top of his powers. He has 22 goals and 19 assists in 29 La Liga appearances this season, adding five goals and four assists in nine cup games.

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“(Messi) will end his working and footballing life at Barcelona”, said Bartomeu in a Monday radio interview. “We are negotiating with many players but Messi has explained to us he wants to stay. And so we’re going to enjoy him for much longer.”

Only four players in Europe’s top five leagues have scored more league goals than Messi and none of those players has more than eight assists. Messi’s 19 La Liga assists are two behind Thomas Muller in that same group.

It had been reported since November that Messi would not exercise his option to leave the club, but there were numerous reasons to think he might rethink things given problems at Barcelona.

There has been chaos in the board room and players including Messi were angry to be thrown under the proverbial bus when Ernesto Valverde was fired early this year.

Notably, he called Barcelona “home” but noted “weird things happening” at the Camp Nou. Fortunately, the club announced that an independent inspector cleared Barca’s hierarchy of wrongdoing after allegations that a third-party company contracted to the club tried to smear current and former club legends on social media.

Bartomeu needs Messi to stay as the club waits for Frenkie de Jong and Ansu Fati to come into the peaks of their powers. If the Argentine leaves Barca, who looks destined to finish second to Real Madrid despite leading the table for most of the year, the pressure on the president will reach an even higher level.

The president has overseen a mostly successful time at Barca during his tenure, winning four domestic titles and the 2014-15 Champions League.

Messi, Griezmann, Suarez turn on style with stunning goals in Barcelona win

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Barcelona are still in the La Liga title race. Just.

Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez combined to score stunning goals in a 4-1 win for Barcelona at high-flying Villarreal on Sunday.

Barcelona’s win means they are now four points behind Real Madrid in the La Liga title race with five games to go, as Real beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 earlier on Sunday.

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Barcelona took the lead as Messi crossed for Griezmann and he didn’t convert his clever flick but Pau Torres put the ball into this own net.

Villarreal then equalized as Samuel Chukwueze launched a counter which Gerardo Moreno finished off after Santo Cazorla’s shot was saved.

Then Barcelona kicked on.

Suarez made it 2-1 with a stunner as Messi set him up and then Griezmann turned on the magic as Messi grabbed another assist.

Another Barcelona attack saw Suarez find Messi on the edge of the box and the Barcelona legend set up Griezmann with a delicious back heel flick.

The French striker, who was criticized by his manager Quique Setien in recent weeks, then clipped home a majestic chip to put Barcelona 3-1 up at El Madrigal.

Ansu Fati scored late on to seal the win as Messi hit the crossbar and scored another which was chalked off via VAR, as Barcelona kept the pressure on Real Madrid ahead of the final weeks of the La Liga season.

Barca aren’t giving up their La Liga title without a fight and they looked in superb form ahead of the Champions League resumption in August.

Real Madrid closer to La Liga title after seventh straight win

Real Madrid Athletic Bilbao
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MADRID — Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 on Sunday to move closer to its first Spanish league title in three years, as Sergio Ramos scored his fifth goal since the season resumed.

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Ramos converted a 73rd-minute penalty kick to give Real Madrid the win over Athletic Bilbao, for its seventh straight league victory and open a seven-point lead over second-place Barcelona, which visits fifth-place Villarreal later Sunday.

“These three points are very important, we knew this was going to be one of the difficult matches we had left,” Ramos said. “This was a key victory to try to put some pressure on Barcelona. We only depend on ourselves.”

Madrid has four matches left as it chases its first league title since 2017.

Ramos had already scored a late winner from the penalty spot in Madrid’s 1-0 win against Getafe on Thursday. He had scored in three other matches since the league resumed.

Ramos converted on Sunday after video review determined there was a foul when defender Dani García stepped on left back Marcelo’s right foot inside the area. Athletic wanted a penalty for a similar foul by Ramos away from the ball a few moments later, but the game was allowed to continue.

Madrid remained the only team with a perfect record after the coronavirus break. Its last three victories came with 1-0 results.

Eighth-place Athletic was coming off two straight victories and had won three of its last four matches, with the only setback a loss at Barcelona.

Madrid was without forward Eden Hazard and defender Raphael Varane because of minor injuries.

Two-time defending champion Barcelona had the lead when the league was suspended but has drawn three of its six matches since the return, including the last two. It will enter the match against Villarreal with coach Quique Setién under pressure because of the team’s poor run of results.

The Catalan club will face a Villarreal team that has won five of its six matches after the break.

Ramos helps Madrid edge Getafe, increase lead over Barcelona

Real Madrid
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BARCELONA, Spain — Real Madrid beat Getafe, increasing its lead over Barcelona to four points with the Spanish league nearing its end as Sergio Ramos scored a late penalty to give them a valuable three points.

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Ramos converted the 79th-minute spot kick after Getafe made its first mistake in an otherwise flawless defensive performance to stifle the more talented rivals.

Madrid right back Dani Carvajal raced into the area and cut back around defender Mathias Olivera, who tripped him and gave Ramos the chance to score the winner that boosts his team’s chances of dethroning Barcelona.

It was the ninth league goal of the season for the Madrid center back.

Madrid has won all six matches since the restart of the league following a three-month stoppage for the coronavirus pandemic. Barcelona, meanwhile, settled for a third draw in four games on Tuesday when it was held 2-2 by Atletico Madrid.

Real Madrid and Barcelona both have five matches left. Madrid holds the tiebreaker in case of they finish level on points.

La Liga standings

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Real Madrid 33 22 8 3 61 21 40 13-4-0 9-4-3 74
 Barcelona 33 21 7 5 74 35 39 15-2-0 6-5-5 70
 Atlético Madrid 33 15 14 4 43 25 18 10-5-1 5-9-3 59
 Sevilla 33 15 12 6 48 33 15 7-7-2 8-5-4 57
 Villarreal 33 16 6 11 53 40 13 8-5-3 8-1-8 54
 Getafe 33 14 10 9 42 31 11 8-6-3 6-4-6 52
 Real Sociedad 33 15 5 13 50 42 8 9-3-5 6-2-8 50
 Athletic Club 33 12 12 9 38 28 10 9-4-3 3-8-6 48
 Granada 33 13 7 13 40 38 2 9-2-5 4-5-8 46
 València 33 12 10 11 41 48 -7 9-7-1 3-3-10 46
 Osasuna 33 11 11 11 40 47 -7 6-5-5 5-6-6 44
 Levante 33 12 6 15 41 46 -5 8-4-4 4-2-11 42
 Betis 33 9 10 14 43 54 -11 8-4-5 1-6-9 37
 Valladolid 33 7 15 11 27 37 -10 3-10-3 4-5-8 36
 Alavés 33 9 8 16 32 50 -18 7-5-5 2-3-11 35
 Eibar 33 9 8 16 34 50 -16 7-2-8 2-6-8 35
 Celta Vigo 33 7 13 13 32 42 -10 5-6-5 2-7-8 34
 Mallorca 33 8 5 20 35 56 -21 7-3-7 1-2-13 29
 Leganés 33 5 10 18 24 49 -25 4-4-9 1-6-9 25
 Espanyol 33 5 9 19 27 53 -26 2-5-9 3-4-10 24