Henry lifts Barça but Real win La Liga

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The Independent Football

On the night when Real Madrid clinched their 31st La Liga title with a dramatic 2-1 win at Osasuna, the goals came at last for Barcelona – too bad the season has already passed them by. Led by an inspired Thierry Henry, Barça ended a run of four games without a goal by beating Valencia 6-0.

Real wrapped up the title with three games to spare but looked as though they might have to wait when, a man down after defender Fabio Cannavaro was sent off early in the second half, they went a goal behind to a Patxi Punal penalty with seven minutes to go.

However, Arjen Robben equalised in the 88th minute, heading in after Gonzalo Higuain whipped a free-kick into the area and the Argentine striker grabbed the winner in the last minute.

At the Nou Camp, for the first 15 minutes Barça fans were able to forget that their club are in the dregs of a second trophyless season as Leo Messi, Henry and Samuel Eto'o sliced through the Valencia defence at will.

But with second-place Villarreal's earlier victory against Getafe keeping them four points ahead of Frank Rijkaard's side, it means Barcelona have just three matches left to save themselves from the indignity of finishing third and having to play qualification ties for next season's Champions League group stage.

It took just six minutes for Messi to break the deadlock with a penalty. Henry teed up Xavi, who blasted in from the edge of the box, for the second two minutes later – before the French striker sent Eto'o down the left, ran on to the return pass and shot past Timo Hildebrand.

Henry, having his best game of the season, could have extended Barcelona's lead nine minutes into the second half but Hildebrand brilliantly saved his shot. But there was nothing the German keeper could do about his effort six minutes later. Henry curled the ball just inside the far post with a sweetly struck shot.

The substitute Bojan Krkic added a further two goals, first from a Deco pass and then from an Eidur Gudjohnsen cross.

Barça must now hope that Villarreal slip up. The Turkish striker Nihat was their hero, scoring twice in the first half from passes from the former Manchester United striker Giuseppe Rossi and ex-Arsenal midfielder Robert Pires.

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