Barcelona clinches another La Liga title behind Lionel Messi's hat trick

Lionel Messi celebrates Barcelona’s second goal at Deportivo La Coruna. (Reuters)
Lionel Messi celebrates Barcelona’s second goal at Deportivo La Coruna. (Reuters)

For the ninth time in 14 years, the seventh time in 10, and the 25th time in its storied history, FC Barcelona is the champion of Spain.

It won the 2017-18 La Liga title in December and March, but officially claimed it Sunday on a rainy evening at Deportivo La Coruna that in many ways was a fitting scene for the clincher. Barcelona withstood a second-half barrage from the relegated hosts to win 4-2 and go 11 points clear of Atletico Madrid with three weeks to go.

The bigger story now will be the Catalans’ invincibility. They remain unbeaten with four matches still to play, including next weekend’s Clasico at Camp Nou. Those four matches will be opportunities to discuss how remarkable it is that this Barca team, of all the great Barca teams, could be the one to achieve perfection.

But Sunday was a day to marvel at the club’s sustained excellence.

It was the ninth title for Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta. It was their third domestic double in four years, and the eighth in club history.

It was a fitting end to a successful campaign in part because it was yet another record-setting day for Messi. The Argentine’s 30th league goal of the campaign made him the first player to score 30-plus goals in seven different La Liga seasons.

His 31st of the La Liga season was the winner in the 82nd minute.

His 32nd – in 33 appearances – was an 85th-minute dagger.

Barca was second-best by a wide margin for 10 or 15 second-half minutes with the score at 2-2. Deportivo pressed for a winner, and very nearly got it.

That part of the story can’t be ignored. Barca’s vulnerability was fitting as well. It conceded 17 shots. Its inability to sustain control of games has been an inescapable feature of this strange season. On another night, a third of those 17 shots might have found the back of the net; the undefeated record might have fallen; the king might have had to wait to reclaim its crown.

But on this one, there was no denying Messi. There was no denying Iniesta one last trophy, his 32nd. And there was no denying Barca its La Liga title.

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Henry Bushnell covers global soccer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at, or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Facebook.

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