Barcelona Handed Title By Real Draw
(CNN) — Barcelona clinched a 22nd Spanish league title on Saturday when second-placed Real Madrid could only draw 1-1 at Espanyol.
Real’s failure to win gave Barca back the crown after a one-year change in ownership, with Tito Vilanova’s team holding a seven-point advantage ahead of Sunday’s trip to Atletico Madrid.
Real coach Jose Mourinho made several changes following the midweek 6-2 win over Malaga, with next Friday’s Copa del Rey final against Atletico in mind.
However, Barcelona-based Espanyol took the lead in the 23rd minute through Christian Stuani, and Hector Moreno was unlucky to have a header ruled out following a seemingly innocuous goalmouth tussle with Xabi Alonso.
Midfielder Alonso had come on in the 19th minute after young French defender Raphael Varane went off injured, while Mourinho brought on striker Karim Benzema at halftime.
The later introduction of top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo led to Real’s 58th-minute equalizer as the Portugal forward won a free-kick which Luka Modric delivered perfectly for striker Gonzalo Higuain to head home.
Tempers flared as Real pressed for a winner to delay their rivals’ title confirmation, and Espanyol’s Victor Sanchez was sent off for a crude late tackle on Higuain while 10 other bookings were handed out in the match.
Ronaldo had the chance to conjure up one of his trademark free-kicks after Sanchez departed, but blazed the ball into the stands.
It continued Real’s poor away form, having drawn four and lost five games of 18 on the road, compared to 16 wins and two draws at home.
Earlier, Osasuna moved four points clear of the relegation zone with a 1-0 win at home to eighth-placed Getafe, while Athletic Bilbao all but secured another year in the top flight with a 2-1 win over bottom club Mallorca.
Valladolid secured safety with three games to play as a 1-0 win over Deportivo la Coruna left the visitors third from bottom.
Juventus’ bid to beat the club’s best Serie A points tally was foiled after the Italian champions drew 1-1 with Cagliari in Saturday’s penultimate match of the season for the Turin side.
Antonio Conte’s team had hoped to beat the 91 posted by the Juve team in 2005-06 before being stripped of the title because of a match-fixing scandal, but can now only get to 90. The record is Inter Milan’s 97 in in 2006-07.
Victor Ibarbo put visiting Cagliari ahead in the 12th minute but striker Mirko Vucinic leveled just after the hour mark, and Juve could not extend the club’s winning run to 10 matches.
Catania consolidated ninth place with a 1-0 win over relegated Pescara.
Champions Bayern Munich romped to a 28th victory from 33 games, winning 3-0 against Augsburg in a Bavarian derby which kicked off title celebrations as the team finally received the trophy which had been secured a month ago.
The defeat left Augsburg in the relegation playoff place, on goal difference behind Fortuna Dusseldorf ahead of the final round.
Borussia Dortmund, who will play Bayern in the Champions League final, clinched second place with a 3-3 draw at Wolsfburg, needing two late goals from Marco Reus to salvage a point.
Bayer Leverkusen consolidated third place with a 3-1 win over Hanover — the last goal from Steffen Kiessling put the German striker one ahead of Dortmund’s Robert Lewandowski at the top of the Bundesliga scoring charts on 24.
Schalke failed to clinch the fourth and final Champions League place after losing 2-1 at home to Stuttgart, whose Bosnia striker Vedad Ibisevic netted both goals to take his tally to 15 this season — putting him third equal with Bayern’s Mario Mandzukic and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Alexander Meier.
Fifth-placed Freiburg can go above Schalke by beating the German Cup finalists in the last round, but Frankfurt’s hopes were effectively ended by a 1-1 draw with Werder Bremen.
Second-placed Marseille made Paris Saint-Germain wait for a first title since 1994 by beating Toulouse 2-1 on Saturday, as Ghana striker Andre Ayew scored both goals on his return from suspension.
The result left PSG with a four-point lead ahead of Sunday’s trip to Lyon, after which there will be two rounds left.
Monaco clinched a return to Ligue 1 with a 1-0 win at Nimes, ensuring there will be conflict with the French football authorities next season.
The principality club is taking legal action after the ruling body announced that it wants to change the tax laws that allow Monaco to pay less than other clubs across the border.
Other French teams fear that Monaco’s billionaire Russian owner Dimitri Rybolovlev will embark on a spending spree similar to PSG’s Qatari benefactors that will create a duopoly in the division.