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VIDEO: Coutinho scores brilliant curler; Iniesta walks off

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It’s often funny to read the A. in front of Andres Iniesta’s surname on his match jersey, as if there’s any other.

On Sunday, the 34-year-old midfielder walked off the field for the last time (video at bottom) as a Barcelona player, handing the captain’s arm band to Lionel Messi and beginning a new era for both the club and player.

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Barcelona beat Real Sociedad 1-0 on Sunday in the final La Liga match of the season.

While the match will be remembered as Iniesta’s last with Blaugranas, Philippe Coutinho gave a glimpse of the future with his eighth goal of the season and sixth in his last five games.

Barca finishes a 1-loss season with 99 goals and a 14-point lead over La Liga runners-up Atletico Madrid.

Real Madrid draw Villarreal; Bale makes case to start UCL final

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Real Madrid showed Liverpool its strengths and weaknesses a week before their Champions League final.

Madrid squandered first-half goals by Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in drawing at Villarreal 2-2 on Saturday in its last match before attempting to win Europe’s most coveted trophy for a third year in a row.

Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane aligned what could be his starting 11 for the final against Liverpool, except for giving 20-year-old son Luca Zidane his competitive debut in goal.

Zidane left striker Karim Benzema on his bench in favor of starting Ronaldo and Bale alone up front and playing Francisco “Isco” Alarcon along with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos as playmakers in front of holding midfielder Casemiro.

Madrid showed the same dominant form that has taken it to another Champions League final in the first half at Villarreal.

But after Ronaldo and Modric were replaced by Benzema and Lucas Vazquez with half an hour remaining, Zidane’s bunch displayed the same complacency and faulty defending that scuttled its Liga title defense months ago.

The draw in the final round meant Madrid finished the Spanish league in third place behind Atletico Madrid and champion Barcelona.

Bale opened the scoring with a solo effort in the 11th minute, and Ronaldo headed in a superb cross by Marcelo just after the half-hour mark.

Fifth-place Villarreal outplayed the visitors in the second half and leveled through goals by substitutes Roger Martinez in the 70th and Samuel Castillejo in the 85th.

“We played a very, very good first half, with determination, scoring goals, but the second half was the exact opposite,” Zidane said. “The important thing is that we didn’t have any injuries and can now rest well for next weekend. We are only thinking about winning the final.”

Bale, who struggled for most of the season to make Zidane’s first-choice 11, has finished the season strong and appears to have earned a spot in the Champions League final.

His opener against Villarreal, created when he let Modric’s pass run through as he spun around his marker, was his 14th goal in the last 10 rounds.

“Gareth has never given up,” Zidane said. “He has trained well. Nothing has changed. The only difference is that now he is scoring.”

Ronaldo’s goal was his 26th in the league. Barcelona’s Lionel Messi leads the competition with 34.

Castillejo snatched the draw after he raced behind Marcelo to receive a lobbed pass from Rodrigo Hernandez. Luca Zidane, who normally plays for Madrid’s reserve team in the third divison, stopped his initial chipped shot but Castillejo slotted the rebound into the open net.

Saudi Arabia midfielder Salem Al Dawsari made his Liga debut as a second-half substitute for Villarreal.

Barcelona jets in for a day to beat South African champs

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) Ousmane Dembele, Luis Suarez and Andre Gomes scored as Barcelona beat South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns 3-1 on Wednesday in a friendly marking 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela.

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Lionel Messi didn’t start the game at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg but drew a roar from the crowd as big as any other on the night when he got up off the bench and started to warm up 20 minutes into the second half. He came on for the last 15 minutes. Andres Iniesta did start in his return to the stadium where he won the World Cup for Spain in 2010.

Dembele, Suarez and Gomes all took advantage of defensive errors, with Dembele curling a left-foot shot into net in the third minute and Suarez doubling the lead in the 18th minute. Gomes added the third in the 66th.

Sibusiso Vilakazi scored Sundowns’ goal late on but the Spanish champions were in cruise control against the South African league winner. Barcelona returns home to play its last game of the Spanish season on Sunday against Real Sociedad, Iniesta’s farewell match after 22 years at Barcelona.

Atletico Madrid wins third Europa League title

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A Frenchman ended the silverware dreams of a French power.

Antoine Griezmann’s brace, both assisted by Koke, led Atletico Madrid past Marseille 3-0, claiming the UEFA Europa League title on Wednesday in Lyon.

It’s the third Europa League crown for Atleti, and for Diego Simeone (two as Atleti manager, and one as Inter Milan player).

Gabi also scored for Atleti.

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Valere Germain was played through on goal very early, but missed his chance to give Marseille the lead.

The miss stung soon after, when Steve Mandanda made a poor clearance. Koke hit it to Griezmann first time, and the Atleti striker scored in his home country.

Marseille lost Dimitri Payet to an injury soon after the half-hour mark.

And Griezmann made it 2-0 before the second half was four minutes old, taking another Koke through ball and flicking over a diving Mandanda.

Kostas Mitroglou subbed into the game for Marseille and headed off the frame in the Ligue 1 side’s best chance to get back into the hunt.

Messi: It would be ‘terrible’ to see Neymar at Real Madrid

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) Barcelona star Lionel Messi says it would be “terrible” to see his friend and former teammate Neymar signing for Real Madrid.

Messi told TyC Sports on Tuesday that “it would be terrible, for all that Ney means to Barcelona.”

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He added that “it is OK that he went the way he did, he won an important title here, he won the Champions League, won the Spanish league. But to end in Real Madrid would be a hard blow for us and for Barcelona fans.”

Neymar, who is recovering from a foot surgery after an injury in February, left Barcelona last summer after Paris Saint-Germain paid a record transfer fee of 222 million euros. But he has been linked with a move to Madrid this summer after just one year in France.