|First Division - Day 36|
Levante 1 - Barcelona 1
Descarga, Alexis, Jesule, Pinillos; Camacho, Celestini, Ettien (Juanma 68'),
Rivera, Jofre; Congo (Reggi 78'). 4-2-3-1.
Team changes: Levante: Pinillos, Jesule, Celestini, Jofre, Congo for Harte, Tito, Nacho, Manchev, Sergio García / Barcelona: Iniesta for Belletti.
Barcelona are the new league champions after drawing 1-1 at Levante. With a better head-to-head record over Real Madrid, Frank Rijkaard's side only needed one point after their rivals drew earlier in the evening. And a second half goal from top scorer Samuel Eto'o was enough to give them their first league title in six years and the seventeenth in their history, much to the delight of the 10,000 travelling fans and a couple of million or so back home in Catalunya.
For a while though it looked as if they would have to wait a week or so longer as they struggled to make an inroad against a team who themselves were desperate for points to fend off the chasing Mallorca. Ex Real Madrid midfielder Rivera hit the bar, and Van Bronckhorst was lucky to be let off a penalty when he appeared to control the ball with his upper arm. And ten minutes before the break Rivera latched on to Congo's headed pass to place the ball wide of Víctor Valdés, the first goal he had conceded in over four games.
Barça could well have been a man short just a few minutes after the goal when Ronaldinho locked heads with Pinillos in an off the ball incident, the defender theatrically falling to the ground as if pole-axed. Referee Undiano Mallenco only showed a yellow card to the Brazilian though, and a few minutes later let Deco off with a booking after a crunching tackle on Celestini. Soon afterwards Valdés was in action to stop an Alexis free kick, but before the half time whistle Eto'o came within a whisker of equalising when he rattled the crossbar after connecting with Oleguer's cross.
Things didn't improve for the visitors after the restart, Valdés having to save twice from Congo and Jofre picking up a bad throw from the keeper and firing a shot back against the post. But on the hour mark Eto'o beat Mora on the far post after Márquez headed on Xavi's corner to make it all square.
For a few minutes Levante tried to fight back, substitute Juanma testing Valdés again. But eventually they decided that a point would do them nicely as well, and for the last quarter of an hour or so the match converted into a practise session, with an unspoken agreement that neither side would rock the boat. Barcelona were crowned champions, and the celebrations went on well into the night in the Condal city, where crowds danced in the streets and 8,000 fans were waiting for the team when they arrived at the airport at four o'clock in the morning.