Barcelona wins Spanish league for 1st time since 2019, 27th overall

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona won its first Spanish league title after the departure of Lionel Messi with a 4-2 victory against Espanyol on Sunday.

Robert Lewandowski scored twice to lead the Catalan club to its first league title since 2019.

The title was secured with four rounds remaining and two years after Messi left amid the club’s financial struggles.

The title celebrations were short-lived, though, as players had to rush into the locker rooms after a large group of Espanyol fans invaded the field from behind one of the goals and started running toward the Barcelona players who were singing and celebrating in the center. Security guards quickly intervened but riot police had to stand in front of the tunnel’s entrance to prevent the fans from going in.

Alejandro Balde and Jules Koundé also scored for Barcelona, which now has 27 league titles, eight fewer than Real Madrid.

The victory over city rival Espanyol gave Barcelona an insurmountable 85 points from 34 matches, 14 points more than Madrid, which won 1-0 at Getafe on Saturday.

Barcelona has led since the 13th round and holds the league’s best defense with 13 goals conceded — 15 better than any other club. It also has 25 clean sheets.

Barcelona won eight league titles in 11 seasons through 2019. It finished second to Madrid in 2020, then third — behind Madrid and champion Atletico — in 2021. It was second to Madrid last season.

Barcelona’s first title without Messi came in the Spanish Super Cup in January.

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