Barcelona forced to wait for title after Villareal draw

Barcelona could have been Spanish champion at Camp Nou but they let a 3-1 lead slip against Villareal. The game ended 3-3 and the Champion's League finalist are 8 points ahead of Real Madrid with three games left to play.


AFP - Barcelona must wait another weekend to win the the Spanish title after Jose Llorente scored a dramatic 90th-minute equaliser as Villarreal gatecrashed the party with a 3-3 draw at Camp Nou.

Barcelona were on course to win their 19th title in front of their fans holding a 3-1 lead but Villarreal scored twice in the final 12 minutes to put the celebrations on hold.

Barcelona need just one point from the final three matches, with the next league match at Real Mallorca, to win their first league title since 2006.

Real Madrid's 3-0 defeat at Valencia on Saturday meant Barcelona could win the title in front of their own fans and they came so close.

A 28th goal of the season from Samuel Eto'o and a Dani Alves free-kick built on Seydou Keita's opener as Barca held a 3-1 advantage at half-time.

However, Eric Abidal was sent off for Barcelona late on after conceding a penalty which Matias Fernandez converted and the hosts were hit with the sucker punch in stoppage time as Llorente scored his second goal to stun the home fans.

Barcelona fans were understandably disappointed and must now wait for the title while the players need to concentrate on Wednesday's Kings Cup final against Athletic Bilbao at the Mestalla Stadium.

The Barca players were on a high after thumping Real 6-2 last Saturday and then edging past Chelsea in their Champions League final and coach Pep Guardiola resisted the temptation to rest stars for the domestic cup final.

Barca got off to a flying start when Keita, a summer signing from Sevilla, saw his deflected shot loop in on 12 minutes.

Villarreal, still without injured captain Marcos Senna, equalised through Llorente on 22 minutes after Yaya Toure lost possession cheaply.

Alves, suspended for the Champions League final, curled in a free-kick seconds before half-time to make it 3-1.

Frenchman Abidal was sent off for the second time in a week, after being dismissed in the Champions League semi-final against Chelsea, for giving away a spot-kick and Fernandez converted to ensure a tense final 12 minutes.

Llorente then took advantage of the nerves to equalise and spoil the party.     Barca now have 103 goals for the season and are just four from equalling Real's all-time record of 107 set back in 1990.

The new champions have amassed 88 points and have three games to try to overtake Real's all-time points record of 92 set back in 1997, although there were 42 games then instead of the current 38. 

For Villarreal the point leaves them three points adrift of fourth-placed Valencia in the Champions League race.

Valencia's surprise drubbing of Real puts pressure on Champions League rivals Atletico Madrid who are also four points behind and have a tough match against in-form Espanyol later on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Getafe did their survival chances the world of good beating relegation rivals Osasuna 3-0 on Sunday to move three points clear of the drop zone.

Esteban Granero scored a brace and Kalu Uche added another as coach Michel savoured his first win in charge of Getafe and Osasuna now hover two points above the drop zone.

Michel and Osasuna coach Jose Antonio Camacho were good friends after playing together at Real Madrid in the 1980s but that friendship had to be put aside with both sides staring relegation in the face.

Another Real old boy Granero, who joined Getafe permanently from Real in the summer of 2008, decided a heated match in which both sides were reduced to ten men.

Fortunately for Osasuna both Sporting Gijon and Recreativo Huelva also lost to stay below them in the standings.

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