Messi hits 50 goals for Barça, Madrid end season to forget
Lionel Messi scored twice to hit the 50-goal mark for the sixth time in his career yesterday while Real Madrid put a fittingly poor ending to its worst season in recent memory after losing in the final round of the Spanish league.
Messi scored his 49th and 50th goals in all competitions this season to give Barcelona a 2-2 draw at Eibar and finished as the league's top scorer with 36 goals for the Spanish champions.
This is the sixth season Messi has finished as the top La Liga scorer, equalling a record held by Athletic Bilbao striker Telmo Zarra from the 1950s.
Barcelona, which had clinched the league title with three rounds to play, will now look to also retain the Copa del Rey title next weekend when they face Valencia. Their chance of a rare treble of major titles was ended by Liverpool in the Champions League semi-finals.
Barcelona won the league with 11 points more than second-place Atletico Madrid. They also finished 19 points ahead of Madrid, the biggest-ever points advantage by Barcelona over their fiercest rival.
"We were very consistent all season long and that's what allowed us to win the by such a comfortable margin," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.
Madrid endured the jeers of their own frustrated fans after a 2-0 loss to Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Most of Madrid's supporters have long placed their hopes on what changes the club will make to an underperforming squad in the summer.
NO SAVING GRACE
Not even coach Zinedine Zidane could find a saving grace to the campaign.
"It isn't that we don't want to (play better), we aren't able to," Zidane said. "The best thing is for this to be over. We are already thinking about the future and next season."
Madrid entered the match with nothing to play for, locked into a third-place finish for the second consecutive season for the first time since 1974.
Since the return of Zidane to take charge of the club after their shock loss to Ajax in the round of 16 in the Champions League, Madrid have finished the campaign with a record of five wins, two draws and four losses.
"The fault is ours," Madrid defender Marcelo said. "We didn't start well and we didn't finish it well, either. In no way was this the season we wanted to have."
Messi moved four goals ahead of Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe -- who has 32 in the French league with a round left -- as the top scorer in Europe's major domestic leagues.
Marc Cucurella, a Barcelona youth player on loan to Eibar, opened the scoring before Messi got his first goal from a pass by Arturo Vidal in the 31st.
Messi added a second just a minute later when he broke behind Eibar's high defensive line, received the ball from Ivan Rakitic and chipped it over goalkeeper Marco Dmitrovic.
Eibar defender Pablo de Blasis levelled just before half-time when he scored from distance into an open net, after Barcelona goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen made a poor clearance with his head outside the area.