Messi Sets Goal Record; But Real Madrid Wins La Liga Title

Lionel Messi has added to his legacy and Real Madrid wins La Liga title.

Real Madrid clinched its 32nd Spanish league title and first in four years with a 3-0 win at Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, Barcelona's Messi broke the European club scoring record with a hat trick that raised his season total to 68 goals.

Gonzalo Higuain scored for Real in the 16th minute and Mesut Oezil doubled the lead four minutes later. Cristiano Ronaldo added his 58th goal of the season in the 50th, making up for a penalty kick in the 12th that was saved by goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz.

Madrid (30-2-4) has 94 points and a seven-point lead over Barcelona (27-3-6) with two games left. The Catalans had won the previous three titles.

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"The players are all very happy after 10 months of fighting, of training, of games, the objective was to be champion so we are happy to have achieved it," said Ronaldo, whose own celebration included a rude gesture directed toward the home fans. "To have beaten a team like Barca makes this league win more difficult. It's much better to win against one of the best teams. It makes it better."

Madrid's players celebrated on the field with coach Jose Mourinho, who flashed seven fingers representing the number of league titles won in his career, following two apiece at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan.

"This was the most difficult one," Mourinho said.

Messi got his ninth hat trick of the season in Barcelona's 4-1 win over Malaga, breaking the record of 67 goals Gerd Mueller had set for Bayern Munich in 1972-73.

The 24-year-old Messi converted penalty kicks in the 35th and 59th minutes, then chipped onrushing goalkeeper Carlos Kameni to score in the 64th after a long pass from Andres Iniesta.

Messi has played 57 games for Barcelona this season and has three games left. He has scored a record 46 goals in the Spanish league plus 14 in the Champions League, three in Spanish Super Cup, two each in the Club World Cup and the Copa del Rey, and one in the UEFA Super Cup

It was the 21st multigoal game of the season for Messi and his seventh league hat trick, tying the mark set by Ronaldo this season.

Messi, a three-time FIFA player of the year, has 248 goals in 326 games for Barcelona.

Mueller scored 36 Bundesliga goals in 1972-73, 12 each in the European Cup and the German League Cup and seven in the German Cup.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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