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FC Barcelona have closed out the season with a 2-2 draw at Eibar in a game where everyone’s minds were understandably more on the Copa del Rey Final next week but that still produced plenty to talk about, including two goals in a minute from the man who is surely now on course for sixth European Golden Shoe and the eighth senior debut this season for a Barça B player.
But there was still very much a pre-season friendly air to the game at Ipurua, with the home side also seeing out their final fixture after comfortably avoiding relegation but not doing enough to battle for a European berth.
Ernesto Valverde’s starting XI is surely a massive hint as to the side he plans to field against Valencia next week – as expected he rested no big names in the conviction that it would be preferable to keep his players active in the build-up top the trip to Seville.
Messis' magic minute
The home side struck first, but at least we had the consolation of knowing that the goal came from Marc Cucurella. On loan from Barça to the Basque club, the left-back is having a fine season and that was his first ever top flight goal – and was also the first time Eibar had ever scored against the Catalans in front of their own fans.
Barça bounced back with two goals in a minute – and both came from the magnificent feet of Leo Messi. For the first, he slipped behind the Eibar defence to slot home Arturo Vidal’s deft assist and the game had barely restarted when he was on the end of a long ball from Ivan Rakitic and beating Serbian stopper Marko Dmitrović for the second time.
The brace confirms that Messi will be finishing the Liga season as top goalscorer for a record-equalling sixth time, and also moves him four ahead of Kylian Mbappé in the European charts. The Frenchman still has one game to play against Stade Reims on Friday, but we can be quietly confident that he can’t catch the GOAT now.
There was another cracking Argentinian goal to come before the break, but this time from Pablo de Blasis – meaning the sides were back where they started for the second half.
The second 45 minutes were a considerably more sombre affair. Barça caused the most danger, but Eibar came closest when Cucurella fired over the bar from close range.
The half also brought yet another debutant into the fold. Carles Pérez is the top scorer for Barça B this term, and Valverde opted to use the 21-year-old winger instead of Malcom for the last quarter of an hour.
There were no more goals, and after nine straight defeats, Eibar could finally celebrate their first ever point against the mighty Barça.
Barça end the season a massive 11 points ahead of second placed Atlético Madrid, and with 19 more than Real Madrid.
And we’ve still got the Copa del Rey Final to look forward to. Bring on the double!
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