BARCELONA — A Philippe Coutinho wonder strike was the difference as Barcelona beat Real Sociedad 1-0 on Sunday to send Andres Iniesta off with one last win.
Iniesta, making his 674th and final appearance, for Barca was substituted in the 81st minute with his side already in the lead but his name rang around Camp Nou until the final whistle. Barca were presented with the league trophy, the 25th in their history at full-time, but this was all about Iniesta, who was in tears on the bench after being taken off.
It’s not been a bad season, has it? Barca will dwell on losses to Roma and Levante but there have been positives, too. They end the campaign 14 points ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid and have won a third domestic double in four years.
Coutinho’s looking good, too. It’s been six months since he arrived from Liverpool and he seems to be at home already, which bodes well for next season.
No more Iniesta. At Camp Nou. Ever. Barca coach Ernesto Valverde says the midfielder is “irreplaceable” but that’s what they will have to try and do this summer.
Manager rating out of 10
6 — Valverde didn’t really have any major decisions to make other than when to take Iniesta off for his standing ovation. Lionel Messi was also given a breather, only coming on for the final 15 minutes.
Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 6 — The offside flag saved him from a high-profile blunder in the first half when he raced out of his box only to misjudge the flight of the ball. Made couple of routine saves after the break though it was a fairly comfortable evening.
DF Nelson Semedo, 6 — His most memorable moments were dives, one at each end of the pitch. Has finished the season well in general, though, and will feel hard done by to have been left out of Portugal’s World Cup squad.
DF Gerard Pique, 7 — Definitely wanted to enjoy himself on the final day of the season. Joined in attacks when he could and should have done better from a corner in the first half, stubbing his effort straight at Miguel Angel Moya.
DF Yerry Mina, 6 — Singled out for criticism after last week’s loss to Levante but Valverde stuck with him here. Looked uncomfortable at times, as was to be expected, but will have benefitted from more first-team experience.
DF Jordi Alba, 4 — Appeared in most places except from where he was supposed to be: at left-back. Can be let off, though, given that it was the final game of the season with nothing on the line.
MF Sergio Busquets, 6 — Like Pique, he took a few more risks than normal. Mainly focused on keeping things ticking from midfield, though, and enjoying his final every game alongside Iniesta.
MF Ivan Rakitic, 7 — Sent a bullet header wide from a Dembele cross in the first half and produced another energetic performance. How does he keep doing it? Was still driving forward with the ball in the final stages.
MF Andres Iniesta, 7 — This was his night but there was no Hollywood ending. An early shot nestled in the side netting and there were plenty of good passes, but no headline goal.
FW Ousmane Dembele, 7 — Barca’s biggest threat in the first half, setting up chances for Rakitic and Suarez. The only way Real Sociedad could deal with his pace was to take him out: somehow, an awful Raul Navas challenge didn’t earn the defender a straight red card. Dembele did re-emerge for the second half but asked to be taken off just eight minutes later. France will hope it’s nothing serious ahead of the World Cup.
FW Luis Suarez, 6 — A disappointing performance from the Uruguayan, whose touch was off. Never really came close to finishing the campaign with a goal.
FW Philippe Coutinho, 7 — Scored a brilliant goal to open the scoring, dodging in past two defenders and finding the back of the net via the post from the edge of the box. Has been one of Barca’s best players in the run-in and is well placed to really kick on next season.
MF Denis Suarez, 6 — Came on for Dembele early in the second half on the right and should have done better with a chance created by Messi.
FW Lionel Messi, NR — Always involved as soon as he came on, setting up a chance for Denis and sending a header straight at Moya.
FW Paco Alcacer, NR — Will forever be remembered as the player that replaced Iniesta for the final time at Camp Nou.
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.