Granada 0-3 Barcelona: Luis Suarez hat-trick inspires Luis Enrique's side to second La Liga title in a row
- Luis Suarez scores hat-trick as Barcelona secure second successive La Liga title with win away at Granada
- Uruguayan scores his 60th goal of the season for club and country as Barca claim 24th league trophy in their history
- Catalan giants needed to win to claim the title with Real Madrid securing victory away at
- Luis Suarez won Barcelona this title. Not just with his hat-trick against Granada, which sealed their 24th La Liga triumph, but with 40 league goals across a superhuman season.
An incredible 14 of those have come in his last five games, helping drag his team out of their rut and keep one point clear of Madrid as the Spanish title race ended in a sprint finish.
Barcelona earned 91 points to Real Madrid’s 90, with Suarez winning the Pichichi award, given to the division’s top goalscorer—he is the first player to win it since 2009 not called Lionel or Cristiano.
Barcelona players celebrate after the final whistle as hundreds of fans invaded the pitch following their latest league title win
Luis Enrique's side were crowned champions on Saturday but have been forced to wait before picking up the league trophy
Gerard Pique (right) leads the celebrations as Barcelona ensured their La Liga dominance resulted in another league title on Saturday
Andres Iniesta raises his arms and clenches his fists in celebration after securing the eighth league title of his Barcelona career
Barcelona players celebrate at the final whistle after their 3-0 win over Granada on Saturday secured another La Liga crown
Barcelona head back to Catalonia having been advised not to hold a parade on Saturday night for security reasons, with an event now arranged for Sunday instead. In a way it feels fitting, given this league should have been won weeks ago but was dragged out until the final week.
Losing three league matches in a row for the first time since 2003 meant in April their season seemed to be crumbling away, especially added to their painful elimination from the Champions League by Atletico Madrid blocking the chance of a double-treble.
There were ugly scenes at the end, as thousands of fans invaded the pitch and the players had to fight their way off. It was something of a metaphor for the title race—it should have been Barcelona’s party but were forced to share the stage.
Twenty-one tense minutes ticked by at the Estadio Nuevo los Carmenes before Suarez burst Granada's bubble.
Pique had a header clawed out, Messi had a drive from the edge of the box tipped over, and Neymar skewed a lob over the crossbar.
The Brazilian was in the wars, with Ruben Perez stamping on his ankle in the first minute and Miguel Lopes following suit when Neymar dared try his luck on the other side of the pitch
Granada created no clear-cut chances at the other end, but threatened to break clear a couple of times with Barcelona pushing up in search of the crucial opener.
It eventually came when Neymar and Alba sliced the Andalusians open down the left, with the latter cutting the ball across the box for Suarez to knock home with ease.
Luis Suarez celebrates with team-mate Neymar after completing his hat-trick as Barcelona romped to a 24th league title on Saturday
Luis Suarez leaps into the air to celebrate doubling Barcelona's lead as they secured a second La Liga title in a row on Saturday
The former Liverpool striker continued his prolific season in front of goal as his first-half double inspired Barca to victory over Granada
Suarez celebrates scoring for Barcelona on another dominant day for the Catalan giants as they retained the Spanish league title
Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba join in the celebrations as Barcelona neared their third league title in the last four seasons
Suarez celebrates with his team-mates after scoring Barcelona's first goal at Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes on Saturday
This was Suarez’s 38th goal of the league season and the 39th didn’t take too long to follow. It was a very similar goal, but this time down the right flank.
Javier Mascherano’s superb pass set in Dani Alves, and the full-back made a lung-bursting run to get to the ball before it went out, producing a superb cross which Suarez nodded home at the near post.
The strike meant he had now scored more goals in a season than anyone else in La Liga history not named Lionel or Cristiano. Telmo Zarra and Hugo Sanchez had hit 38, in their best seasons.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Suarez’s goals also confirmed he would take home the Pichichi award, becoming the first man to break the Messi-Ronaldo hegemony since his Uruguayan compatriot Diego Forlan won it in 2009.
There was little football played in the second half, as Granada hacked away at Barcelona players’ shins instead of trying to get back into the game.
Ruben Perez flung a head-butt in Neymar’s direction which he did well to dodge, while the visitors remonstrated with their former team-mate Isaac Cuenca, after he played on when Suarez was down injured.
In one of the few chances after the break Marc-Andre ter Stegen made a good stop from Fran Rico’s strike after El-Arabi played him in, but it was a weak effort.
Suarez completed his hat-trick after Neymar unselfishly squared to him when through on goal, after Messi's through-ball, taking him to 59 for the season in total.
The MSN trio now have 130, up from 122 in total last year, and they still have the Copa del Rey final to go. If Barcelona complete their double, seeing the two Madrid teams fight it out in Milan for the Champions League will hurt a little less.
‘We were on top for a lot of weeks’ said a jubilant and slightly relieved Luis Enrique on Saturday night.
The Barça manager has now won five trophies in his first two seasons and he can make that six if his team wins next weekend’s Spanish Cup final against Sevilla.
‘The most consistent team wins the title and I am just happy for everyone connected with the club; we had to suffer a bit but we did it,’ he said.
‘We set out at the start of the season to win all the trophies but that is something nobody had ever done. Sometimes people think not winning one is a disaster. But we know how difficult it is to win trophies. We will celebrate this and try to win the cup.’
Barcelona face Sevilla in next week’s Spanish Cup final but on Sunday they will parade the trophy through the streets of the city.
Suarez rounds Granada goalkeeper Andres Fernandez as Barcelona ran away from the home side in the first-half on Saturday
Spanish centre-back Gerard Pique rises highest to plant his head on the ball as he competes in the air with Granada's Doucoure
Argentina superstar Lionel Messi strikes the ball cleanly with his left foot as Barcelona ran out comfortable winners away from home
Granada's Adalberto Penaranda battles for the ball with Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic on a sunny day in the south of Spain
Granada's David Lombam challenges for the loose ball with Brazil star Neymar as Barcelona cruised to victory on Saturday afternoon
‘At 0-0 there were risks in the game,’ said Luis Enrique. ‘But when we got to 2-0 we could start to really circulate the ball and pressure our opponent.’
The team success also made for huge personal triumphs for several players. For Andres Iniesta it means a 29th trophy taking him past Xavi as the Spanish player with most medals won in his career.
And for Luis Suarez the 40 league goals and 59 in total means his second season is even better than his first and he has more than made up for taking Liverpool so close to the Premier League but failing in the final weeks of the season.
Zinedine Zidane congratulated Barcelona saying: ‘We finished one point short of them and there is nothing we can do now.’ Had the league started when he took over Real would have finished first. Hinting at that defender Marcelo said: ‘We made a bad start to the season.’
The Real Madrid coach added: ‘I am proud of the players they never gave in. We fought to the end now is the time to rest a little and prepare for the final. All we are thinking about now is the last game we have left to play’.
Madrid players now have two days off before preparations begin for that Champions League final against Atletico Madrid in two week’s time. Zidane confirmed Ronaldo has a bruised foot but the expectation is that it is nothing that will prevent him from playing in Milan.
Granada's Venezuelan striker Adalberto Penaranda fights for the ball with Lionel Messi on a tough day for the home side
Tempers flared towards the end of the 90 minutes on Saturday as Granada struggled to work their way back into the game