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Messi injured again but Barca wins to spark party

Source : AP
Last Updated: Mon, May 13, 2013 05:22 hrs
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Not even an injury to Lionel Messi in the 2-1 victory over Atletico Madrid could dampen Barcelona's celebrations at winning its 22nd Spanish league title. 

Messi started his first match in six rounds because of a recurring right hamstring injury, but he left the field in the 68th minute with Barcelona trailing 1-0 to Radamel Falcao's 52-minute goal and having made all three substitutions. 

However, Alexis Sanchez leveled in the 72nd and Atletico midfielder Gabi Fernandez scored an own goal in the 80th to restart Barcelona's party for winning the title that was clinched when Real Madrid's title defense ended with a draw late Saturday. 

Barcelona's hard-fought win keeps it on pace to match Madrid's record haul of 100 points from last season. The Catalan club needs to win its remaining three matches to reach the mark. 

"This title has more merit and maybe we value it more because we didn't win it last year," said Barcelona defender Gerard Pique. "It's juicier and we are enjoying it more. Reaching 100 points would be special, but we'll have to fight to win the final three games." 

While the team savored the comeback, the real festivities with its fans will be back in Barcelona on Monday when the players and staff are paraded through the city center. 

On the down side, Barcelona said Messi had re-injured his hamstring and would undergo tests. 

Messi's early finish to the match meant he finally failed to find the net after having scored in a record 21 consecutive Spanish league appearances, smashing the old milestone of 10. 

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova took time to thank his players for continuing to win without him this winter when he had to step aside to treat a throat tumor. 

"It's quite remarkable what my players have done this season," the first-year head coach said. "I have already said that this could have only happened in this club, spending two months without a head coach and not letting it affect anything. That's because all these players feel at home here, they feel like the club belongs to them.

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