Soccer

Barcelona secure La Liga

2011-05-11 22:44
Barcelona (AFP)

Madrid - Barcelona drew 1-1 at Levante on Wednesday to win their third consecutive La Liga title after a nervous display at the Ciutat de Valencia stadium.

Barca have 92 points with two matches left, six ahead of second-placed Real Madrid who beat Getafe 4-0 on Tuesday, and Pep Guardiola's side hold the advantage in games between the two sides.

Seydou Keita headed the visitors in front after 28 minutes but a terrible mix-up between defender Gerard Pique and keeper Victor Valdes led to Felipe Caicedo equalising just before halftime.

Barca held on for a point and can now focus on the Champions League final against Manchester United at Wembley on May 28.

"This isn't about today, it is about nine months of hard work, emotions and suffering. We deserved it today," striker David Villa told Spanish radio as he basked in his first league triumph.

"You can see how pleased we all are, above all because of all the work we have done."

Winning the title at the Ciutat de Valencia was particularly significant as it was where former coach Frank Rijkaard landed his first crown with Barca in 2005.

A 1-1 draw at Levante at the end of the 2004-05 season ended six trophy-less years for the club and set in motion a cycle of success for the Catalans.

Guardiola built on the Dutchman's work from 2008 and Barca have now won five of the last seven Spanish championships.

The 40-year-old Guardiola, in his first top-flight coaching role, has now picked up nine trophies in three years including three league titles, one European Cup and one King's Cup.

Barca dominated a cagey opening quarter until Xavi saw Keita's run from deep and flighted a long pass into his path. The Malian midfielder brushed off two defenders to power a header into the net.

Guardiola was not happy with his side and could be seen gesticulating on the touchline. He held his head in his hands when the defence gifted Levante the equaliser.

Pique tried to shield a ball back to Valdes under pressure from Caicedo and then misjudged an attempted clearance as the Levante striker surged past him to score into the empty net.

After the restart Lionel Messi conjured one of his seemingly impossible runs as he twisted and turned through a crowd of Levante defenders but with only the keeper to beat his shot hit the post.

As the minutes ticked down Barca's substitutes lined up arm in arm on the touchline while their colleagues kept possession and when the referee blew for time they all raced onto the pitch to celebrate.

Read more on:    la liga  |  seydou keita
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