Barcelona wrap up La Liga title with Messi hat-trick

Lionel Messi became the first player in La Liga history to score 30 or more goals in seven different seasons

Barcelona wrapped up the league title in Ernesto Valverde’s first season as manager with a Lionel Messi-inspired victory over Deportivo La Coruna.

Messi scored a hat-trick at the Riazor to give Barca an unassailable lead at the top of the table.

Barcelona had led 2-0 with goals from Philippe Coutinho and Messi but Depor fought back to 2-2 with strikes from Lucas Perez and Emre Colak.

Messi then struck twice in the final 10 minutes to seal the win.

This is the 25th time Barcelona have won La Liga – eight behind the 33 won by rivals Real Madrid. They are only four games from an unbeaten La Liga season.

More magic from Messi downs Depor

Coutinho had put Barca ahead with a curling effort and Messi doubled the lead when he volleyed in at the back post following a sublime cross from Luis Suarez – who assisted all of Messi’s goals.

Depor refused to give up though, and Arsenal loanee Perez pulled a goal back with a first-time shot before Colak swept past Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen following a fine team move.

Argentina international Messi ensured the title was won with a flourish as he notched his 46th hat-trick for club and country.

The 30-year-old produced two composed finishes from close range to secure the victory and ensure Depor’s relegation.

Messi might be sad to see them go having scored 13 goals at the Riazor, his favourite ground alongside Real Madrid’s Bernaebu.

Lionel Messi leads La Liga this season in goals (32 goals), assists (12), chances created (81) and secondary assists (passes leading directly to an assist: nine).

Valverde delivers the title

A degree of scepticism greeted Barcelona’s decision to appoint ex-Athletic Bilbao boss Valverde in May 2017.

However, the 54-year-old has delivered the Spanish league title in his maiden season.

It is the second piece of silverware in the trophy cabinet at the Nou Camp this season following from Barca’s emphatic 5-0 victory over Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final.

However, there will be no European glory this season following Barca’s dramatic exit to Roma in the Champions League last month.

Barca conceded a 4-1 quarter-final first-leg lead as they lost the second leg 3-0 in Italy.

That will be Valverde’s target next season having seen domestic rivals Real Madrid win the past two European Cups. They are on course to reach this year’s final in Kiev.

The start of Iniesta’s goodbye

Andres Iniesta won La Liga for the ninth time – his 32 and final major honour with Barca

The match was the first since midfielder Andres Iniesta announced his decision to leave the Catalan club at the end of the season.

The 33-year-old began the match on the bench after being named among Barcelona’s substitutes by Valverde.

Iniesta’s arrival on the pitch in the 87th minute was greeted by a standing ovation from both sets of fans.

Next Sunday will be his final chance to play in El Clasico when Real Madrid visit the Nou Camp.

After that there is a home game against Villarreal and a trip to Levante before the curtain is brought down on his Barca career with Real Sociedad the visitors to the Nou Camp on 20 May.

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