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Messi scores to secure La Liga for Barcelona

Barcelona have clinched Spain's La Liga title - their 23rd - with a tight away win against last year's champions Atletico Madrid. Paris St. Germain, Benfica and Zenit St. Petersburg also scooped domestic league titles.

The narrow victory at Madrid's Vincente Calderon on Sunday placed Barcelona four points clear of rivals Real Madrid, with just one game left to play. The winning goal came courtesy of none other than the visitng side's diminutive Argentine maestro, Lionel Messi.

Real did all they could to spoil the party, beating Barca's local adversaries Espanyol 4-1, but a 65th minute goal from Messi ensured the La Liga title was headed for Catalonia.

Barcelona's 29th win in 32 matches secured their seventh Liga in 11 seasons - and their 23rd Liga title.

Their latest title win puts Barca nine league titles behind Real Madrid - and the trend appears to be for that gap to narrow.

Only one winner

Barca entered the game without injured striker Luis Suarez, but still dominated the first half and had three good penalty claims turned down. The only breakthrough, though, came with 25 minutes left on the clock when Messi struck sweetly with his left foot after a deft one-two with Pedro.

Spanien Fußballer FC Barcelona sind spanischer Meister 2015

Berlin-bound Barca could have more celebrations on the way, with a treble still possible

"The league title is the prize for the most consistent team," Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets said. "We were not exactly brilliant today but we did create the best chances and I think we deserved to win."

Barca could now match their achievement of 2009, when they won La Liga, the Champions League and Copa del Rey - Spain's domestic cup competition. The Catalans face Athletic Bilbao in the cup final May 30, and Juventus in the Champions final in Berlin on June 6.

Good day for saints

In France, Paris St. Germain clinched a third successive Ligue 1 title with a game to spare, with a 2-1 win at Montpellier. The Qatari-owned club ended the night eight points clear of nearest rivals Olympique Lyonnaise and remain in the running for an unprecedented domestic treble.

In Russia it was Zenit St. Petersburg, led by Portuguese coach Andre Villas-Boas, who won the Russian Premier League title for the fourth time. Zenit drew 1-1 at FC Ufa, putting them an unassailable eight points clear of nearest challengers CSKA Moscow.

Meanwhile, Portugal's Benfica won their first back-to-back title in 31 years - the side's 34th league crown in club history. Having protected a three-point lead with one match to go, Benfica hold the head-to-head advantage with Porto, ensuring their grip on the league top spot.

rc/kb (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)