LUIS Suarez set the seal on the La Liga season with a hat-trick as Barcelona retained the title Saturday with a 3-0 win at Granada.
With Cristiano Ronaldo striking twice against Deportivo La Coruna in the first half for arch-rival Real Madrid, the Uruguayan steadied Catalan nerves with two sharp finishes to match him.
His hat-trick, taking his tally to a league-leading 40 and 59 overall, came in the closing moments of a feisty encounter at Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes.
Suarez’s goals have been key factor in a 24th championship for Barcelona after a three-way tussle with Real and Atletico Madrid.
He has also sealed the annual trophy for top La Liga scorer, relegating Ronaldo to second place.
“I score goals thank to hard work and the help of my teammates; they give me the chances and I just put them away,” he told the club’s official website.
“(The Pichichi) would not have meant anything if we had not won the league. We must celebrate it and then turn our attention back to the cup.”
Barca plays Sevilla next week in the Copa del Rey final, attempting to complete the domestic double.
Atletico faltered last weekend against Levante to leave Real, which trailed by a point going into the final round of matches, the only challengers.
Ronaldo’s early opener, after superb work by Gareth Bale, gave Los Blancos first blood until Suarez opened the scoring for the title leader in the 22nd minute.
Ronaldo’s second followed on 25 minutes at Estadio Riazor until Suarez gave Barcelona a two-goal cushion in the 38th.
Ronaldo had moved past the 50-goal mark for the sixth straight season and made sure his side kept second place ahead of its city rival.
But the Portuguese did not appear for the scoreless second half, his side facing Atletico at the end of the month in the Champions League final, and Real did not add to its scoreline after the break in the 2-0 win.
Its title challenge was effectively over as Barcelona never looked in serious danger of giving up its lead, victory sealed when Neymar set up Suarez for his 14th goal in five games in the title run-in.
Barca’s talisman Lionel Messi was claiming his eighth La Liga winning medal, the success for his side some consolation for the failure to defend the Champions League, beaten in the quarterfinal by Atletico.
Combined with an El Clasico defeat to a newly invigorated Real Madrid under Zinedine Zidane, Barca’s title hopes looked in the balance, but it was made of sterner stuff.
A run of five straight wins with 24 goals and none conceded has kept Real at bay and delighted coach Luis Enrique, who hailed a “deserved title” for his charges.
It was Barca’s sixth La Liga title in the last eight years and a massive victory parade is planned Sunday to sport the trophy again through the streets of the city.
Real, whose players sported black armbands in tribute to the 16 of its fans killed in an attack in Iraq, finished the season with 12 straight league wins.
“I am very proud of the players and what we have done,” said Zidane. “We never gave up and we fought until the end.”
A record 11th Champions League crown does await for Real if it can beat Atletico in the final on May 28.
Atletico later concluded its La Liga campaign with a 2-0 home win over Celta Vigo, with Fernando Torres scoring the opener, leaving the top three separated by just three points. – CNN