Barcelona were made to work hard to clinch the La Liga title as they saw off a determined Deportivo La Coruna in a 4-2 win at the Riazor on Sunday.
The visitors grabbed an early foothold in the game as Philippe Coutinho curled home the ball into the top left corner from Ousmane Dembele’s layoff. The hosts though, took the game to Barcelona, having a goal ruled out as offside after Lucas Perez found the back of the net, only to be pulled back as Fabian Schar was offside in the buildup.
While Deportivo seemed to be in the ascendancy Barcelona went on to double their lead through Lionel Messi, whose run was spotted by Luis Suarez. Clarence Seedorf’s pulled a goal back two minutes later, with Lucas Perez scoring a goal that stood this time. Depor continued their fine form post the break and were soon on level terms as Emre Colak scored from Celso Borges’s cut-back.
— FC Barcelona 🏆🏆 (@FCBarcelona) April 29, 2018
But, it wasn’t to be for the hosts as Messi scored twice in a three-minute span to complete his hat-trick and get his side all three points. The result meant Barcelona reclaimed the La Liga title while Deportivo were relegated from the Spanish top-flight. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ernesto Valverde’s men.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 7/10
Another night when ter Stegen made a huge difference for Barcelona. The German produced two superb saves, the latter to keep the scores level at 2-2, and he couldn’t have done anything to stop either goal that Deportivo scored on the night.
Nelson Semedo: 6.5/10
Semedo endured a tough night at the back, with Deportivo giving Barcelona a run for their money, with left-back Luisinho indulging in a personal battle that he largely won. But, the defensive work meant he couldn’t contribute in the final third as much as he would have liked. Something to build upon, though.
Gerard Pique: 7/10
The best of the lot at the back for Barcelona, Pique had his hands full with the threat of Lucas Perez. But, he dealt with most of it admirably, even indulging in a cheeky display of skills inside his own box at one point. Could have even had a goal late on, but Ruben Martinez denied him with a brilliant save.
Samuel Umtiti: 6/10
Much improved than some of his recent outings, Umtiti made some fantastic last-ditch tackles to keep the Deportivo attackers at bay. Still some way off his very best, however, and he needs to improve quite a bit ahead of the El Clasico next week.
Jordi Alba: 6/10
Another player who wasn’t at his best on the night. Alba had a tough time at the back and while he did burst forward like he usually does, he didn’t quite carry the threat in the final third that one has grown accustomed to expect from him over the course of the season.
Philippe Coutinho: 7.5/10
Philippe Coutinho in his last five games:
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Coutinho continues to grow in stature at Barcelona, and that was evident on Sunday as he was influential once again. The Brazilian broke the deadlock with a sublime finish that curled into the top corner, but that wasn’t all from him. His link-up play around the Deportivo box made him a constant threat, and his creative abilities suggest Barcelona have an able successor to Andres Iniesta already.
Ivan Rakitic: 7/10
A colossal figure in the middle of the park for Ernesto Valverde once again, Rakitic put in a big shift, recycling possession smartly and working his socks off to win the ball back quickly. Could have done better to mark Colak for Deportivo’s second goal, but that was perhaps his only blip on the night.
Sergio Busquets: 7/10
Busquets seems to be finally getting his way back to peak sharpness after a difficult spell following his recovery from injury. While Deportivo did have some joy down the middle, the veteran midfielder also absorbed a lot of the pressure while dictating the tempo of the game in typical fashion.
Ousmane Dembele: 7/10
A positive outing from Dembele, showing that he’s taking steps in the right direction. The Frenchman provided the assist for Coutinho’s goal and was also crucial in the build-up to Messi’s first. Still some chinks in his armour though, and the fact that he was the first player to be substitutes represents a lack in trust from Valverde.
Lionel Messi: 9/10
Messi snatches back the lead in the race for the Golden Boot 🏆 pic.twitter.com/jfT54sBkit
— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 30, 2018
Barcelona’s talisman for years was at it for the umpteenth time on Sunday. This time, a hat-trick ensured Barcelona wrapped up the title race in exciting fashion. The goals took his tally to 32, which puts him in the lead to win the European Golden Shoe award.
Luis Suarez: 8.5/10
While Suarez didn’t quite have his scoring boots on on the night, he did put on his creative hat, and it fit well. The Uruguayan assisted each of Messi’s goals, two of those being right out the top drawer. Could have had a couple of goals to himself, but it wasn’t meant to be on the night, perhaps.
Denis Suarez: 7/10
With the scores level and half an hour to go, Denis Suarez got the opportunity to make a difference off the bench, and he did just that. A bundle of energy, the Spaniard breathed life into the game as Barcelona went on to take control of the game before ultimately winning it.