Barcelona beat Deportivo La Coruna 4-2 on Sunday to clinch the La Liga title, but their celebrations at the Riazor were restrained as the home side were relegated to the second division in the process.
Lionel Messi stole the show, scoring a hat trick as the Catalans wrapped up their seventh league championship in the past decade with four games to spare.
Barca took an early lead through Philippe Coutinho, with Messi doubling their advantage in the 38th minute. Lucas Perez pulled one back for the hosts before the break, though, and Emre Colak equalised after the hour.
But two Messi goals in the final 10 minutes swung the pendulum back in Barca’s favour as they sealed the title, and they can now switch their focus to becoming the first-ever side to go through an entire top-flight season in Spain unbeaten.
What’s more positive than winning a 25th league title? Winning a seventh league title in a decade, perhaps, to cement your place at the top of Spanish football? Or maybe completing a league an cup double, the eighth in the club’s history?
All of those things apply to Barca, who were deservedly crowned La Liga champions thanks to this win.
There were signs of the old (Messi and Luis Suarez combining for three goals) and the new (Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele playing their part) in the victory, too. Supporters, therefore, will hope the departure of Andres Iniesta this summer won’t signal the end of an era just yet.
Barca will want to enjoy their league title, but coach Ernesto Valverde will also be wondering what’s gone wrong at the back in recent weeks. Conceding two goals follows a recent trend of surrendering far too many chances. They got away with it against Valencia and Leganes and, eventually, they got away with it here as well.
Manager rating (out of 10)
7 — Valverde picked an attacking lineup and was rewarded as his side raced into a two-goal lead. He then reacted when Depor hauled themselves back into the game, with his substitutes, particularly Denis Suarez, helping Barca out of a potentially troubling situation.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 7 — Produced another exquisite save for his highlight reel in the first half, diving to his left to keep out a Raul Albentosa header.
DF Nelson Semedo, 6 — Came in for the suspended Sergi Roberto at right-back but didn’t have his finest night. Booked for a foul on Luisinho and struggled to join in further forward.
DF Gerard Pique, 7 — In the right place at the right time to clear up several problems, but will be disappointed to have been part of a defence that conceded twice. Only a wonderful save from Ruben Martinez denied him a goal late on, too.
DF Samuel Umtiti, 6 — Not been in great form since the speculation about his future hit the papers, but he’s shown signs of improvement again in recent weeks.
DF Jordi Alba, 6 — After an outstanding season, so much is expected of Alba in defence and attack now. Didn’t have his finest day in the final third, though, despite getting into good positions.
MF Sergio Busquets, 7 — Finally looks fully recovered from a broken bone in his foot and was once again the starting point for the majority of Barca’s attacks.
MF Ivan Rakitic, 7 — Hardly put a foot wrong in the first half, winning the ball back time and again. Was also disciplined in possession. Has had a brilliant season under Valverde.
MF Philippe Coutinho, 7 — Has really grown into the Barcelona shirt since joining from Liverpool in January. Opened the scoring with a brilliant finish from the edge of the box and his presence goes some way to easing the loss of Iniesta next season. Links well with Messi and Suarez.
MF Ousmane Dembele, 7 — Was involved in both first-half goals, setting up Coutinho and driving the ball forward in the prelude to Messi’s strike. Has finally begun to show what he’s about but still needs to do more defensively to convince Valverde he should be starting the big games — shown by the fact he was sacrificed when Depor levelled.
FW Lionel Messi, 9 — It was only right that the star of Barcelona’s season was the star as they clinched the league title. Messi scored a brilliant hat trick, each goal assisted by Suarez, as he took his tally to 32 league goals this season.
FW Luis Suarez, 8 — Known for his goal scoring but produced a sensational pass with the outside of his boot to set up Messi’s goal. Showed even more generosity in the second half to set up two more Messi goals with two more clever passes, completing a hat trick of assists. Was denied his own goal, though, by a smart Ruben save.
MF Denis Suarez, 7 — Came on at 2-2 and played a key role as Barca re-established their lead, carrying the ball forward in the build-up to the third goal.
MF Paulinho, 6 — Like Denis, came on at 2-2 as Valverde looked to change the dynamic of the game.
MF Andres Iniesta, NR — A slight injury prevented him starting the game but he came on to a standing ovation after announcing he will leave Spanish football at the end of the season on Friday.
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.