Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 June 2019

Lionel Messi scores twice as Barcelona draw final La Liga game at Eibar

Argentine forward took his tally to 36 league goals for the season, becoming the first player since Hugo Sanchez in 1987 to finish top goalscorer three years in a row

Lionel Messi signed off his season in style by scoring twice in Barcelona's final game of the Primera Liga season, although he could not prevent his side being held to a 2-2 draw at Eibar.

Messi took his tally to 36 league goals this season with a typically classy double as Barca completed their campaign having successfully defended the title by a comfortable margin.

Eibar went ahead in the 20th minute with a strike from Barca's on-loan midfielder Marc Cucurella which squirmed under goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, but Messi levelled in the 31st after sneaking into the box to meet a pass from Arturo Vidal.

Messi struck again a minute later, racing through the middle unchallenged to latch on to a pass from Ivan Rakitic and calmly chip the outstretched keeper Marko Dmitrovic.

But Eibar's Pablo de Blasis levelled right before half time with a superb one-touch strike from long range after the ball fell into his path following a desperate header away from Cillessen, who looked in shaky form ahead of next week's Copa del Rey final against Valencia.

"When you have nothing at stake you are always less keen in a game, in the end we drew but I think we have ended the season well," said Barca manager Ernesto Valverde.

"We have been champions for a while now, we were very consistent throughout the campaign. We had a few difficulties early in the season, but we overcame them."

Malcom and Gerard Pique missed second-half chances for the champions while Cucurella spurned an even better opportunity to snatch a winner for Eibar, who have still never managed to beat Barca in the top flight.

Messi had a difficult chance to score again and complete a hat-trick but sent his shot well over the bar.

The Argentine still finished the campaign as La Liga's top scorer for a third year in a row, the first player to do so since Hugo Sanchez of Real Madrid in 1987.

He also joined the late former Athletic Bilbao striker Telmo Zarra as the only players in the league's history to be top scorer six times.

Messi scored 15 goals more than his nearest challengers, Barca teammate Luis Suarez and Real Madrid's Karim Benzema who both netted 21 times.

Barca, who clinched an eighth title in 11 seasons with three games to spare, finished the campaign on 87 points, 11 clear of runners-up Atletico Madrid and 19 ahead of Real Madrid in third.

Their focus now turns to beating Valencia in next week's Copa del Rey final in Seville to complete a second consecutive domestic double.

Their season, however, is still likely to be overshadowed by their Uefa Champions League semi-final elimination to Liverpool, when Barca threw away a 3-0 first leg lead to lose 4-0 in the return fixture.

Updated: May 19, 2019 10:08 PM

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