Barcelona close in on La Liga title

Date published: Monday 24th August 2015 1:07

Barcelona close in on La Liga title

Luis Enrique’s side could not offer the same barnstorming performance that saw them romp to victory over Bayern Munich on Wednesday as David Moyes’ side produced another impressive defensive display against the Catalans, but their resistance wilted after the break.
All Barcelona must do now is win at Atletico Madrid next Sunday and overcome Deportivo La Coruna at the Camp Nou the following week and a 23rd title will be theirs.
Luis Enrique rotated his team after the 3-0 win over Bayern, resting Jordi Alba, Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta, but left the ferocious attacking trident of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar untouched.
Barca were not at their swashbuckling best but still had the bulk of possession and created a string of chances in the first half.
In the opening 15 minutes Messi and Neymar were both denied by Real Sociedad’s goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli, who was the scourge of Luis Enrique’s side when they lost to Moyes’ men at Anoeta in January, while Suarez narrowly shot wide of either post.
Rulli was again at hand to tip over a header from Marc Bartra in the second half, but Barca found a way through in the 52nd minute. Messi launched a now trademark left-footed cross from the right of midfield into the box and Mikel Gonzalez glanced the ball backwards, allowing Neymar to nod the ball in at the far post.
Once ahead, Barca never looked in danger of losing their lead, but they did not manage to put the game out of sight until Pedro struck with five minutes to go.
Messi cut into the box from the right and a Real Sociedad defender sent his attempted cross spinning into the air, and Pedro reacted quickly and intelligently to execute an overhead kick and smash the ball past Rulli.
Messi wanted a goal of his own and nearly got one late on as he cruised past a couple of La Real defenders, but shot just wide of goal. The Argentinian may not have been able to add to the 40 goals he has scored in the league this season on this occasion, but now a seventh title is well within his sights.

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