May 19, 2013
Barca close in on century
#INSERT type:image caption: Pedro and team-mates celebrate the Barca opener. END#Barcelona remain on course for a club record 100 points after seeing off Real Valladolid at a rain-swept Camp Nou.
Valladolid gave the recently-crowned champions a guard of honour before the match - and then helped ensure the night would be successful for Tito Vilanova's men by conceding two sloppy first-half goals.
First, a terrible pass out of defence by Jesus Rueda was intercepted by Xavi, who fed Pedro for the opening goal, and then Marc Valiente sliced a corner into his own net to put Barca 2-0 up just before half-time.
Barcelona were unable to build on that despite dominating the second half, and were made to sweat a little when Valladolid pulled a late goal back through Victor Perez's penalty.
Although that ruined Victor Valdes' hopes of a clean sheet on his 500th competitive appearance for the home side, the visitors never came close to an equaliser as Barca moved on to 94 points with two games remaining.
The Catalan club's previous-best tally was the 99 they got in the 2009-10 campaign, while the only team to reach 100 points in La Liga history were Real Madrid last season.
Following the match, Barca were handed the Primera Division trophy for the fourth time in five years, having secured the title when nearest challengers Madrid could only draw at Espanyol last weekend.
Club captain Carles Puyol stepped aside when the moment came to lift the trophy, instead giving the honour to Vilanova and full-back Eric Abidal, both of whom have battled cancer in recent times.
Barca came into the match without the injured Lionel Messi andstruggled to create much in the opening 20 minutes.
However, they were given a huge helping hand when Rueda handed Xavi possession 35 yards. Xavi was not about to waste the unexpected gift, quickly progressing to the edge of the area before laying the ball off to Pedro on his right for his fellow Spain international to drill a low shot under Jaime.
That was one of the few shooting chances Barca had in the first half, but they still went into the break 2-0 up following another Valladolid defensive clanger.
Xavi's inswinging corner from the right was flicked on at the near post and Valiente - who was on Barca's book as a youngster - succeeded only in slicing the ball past Jaime as he tried to volley clear.
With the points seemingly in the bag, the only question looked to be how many more Barca might add in the second half.
They had the chances to record a big victory but found Jaime in fine form, the 32-year-old producing brilliant diving saves to deny Xavi, Martin Montoya and David Villa.
And when Jaime was beaten, Pedro's shot clipped the top of the bar, while the same player also hit the side-netting with the goal at his mercy.
At the other end, Valdes - who became only the fourth player to make 500 appearances for Barca- was having a quiet night, with his only save seeing him deny Oscar following good skill from the Valladolid forward.
But Valdes ended up conceding in the 88th minute when Montoya was adjudged to have brought down Alberto Manucho in the area and Perez slammed the penalty into the top corner.
|1 Victor Valdés||1 Jaime Jiménez Merlo|
|14 Javier Mascherano||4 Marc Valiente|
|3 Gerard Piqué||6 Jesús Rueda|
|18 Jordi Alba||17 Carlos Gonzalez Peña|
|19 Martin Montoya||24 Mikel Balenziaga|
|16 Sergio Busquets||10 Óscar González|
|8 Andrés Iniesta||22 Victor Perez|
|6 Xavi||18 Alvaro Rubio|
|4 Cesc Fábregas||9 Javi Guerra|
|7 David Villa||14 Omar Ramos|
|17 Pedro||11 Daniel Larsson|
|13 José Manuel Pinto||Valdet Rama 23|
|25 Alex Song||Lluis Sastre 16|
|9 Alexis Sánchez||Baraja 8|
|37 Cristian Tello||Alberto Bueno 15|
|11 Thiago Alcantara||Manucho 25|
|12 Jonathan Dos santos||Henrique Sereno Fonseca 5|
|15 Marc Bartra||Daniel Hernandez 13|
|Thiago Alcantara for Sergio Busquets (64)||Alberto Bueno for Óscar González (68)|
|Jonathan Dos santos for Andrés Iniesta (76)||Manucho for Javi Guerra (76)|
|Cristian Tello for Cesc Fábregas (83)||Lluis Sastre for Alvaro Rubio (85)|
|· Squads: Barcelona | Real Valladolid|