VITORIA, Spain, July 20 ------ Lionel Messi won a record seventh top scoring title in the Spanish league on Sunday after netting twice in Barcelona's 5-0 rout of Alavés in the final round. Messi ended with 25 goals, four more than Karim Benzema, who did not score in Real Madrid's 2-2 draw at Leganés. Messi is the first player to finish as the league's top scorer in seven different seasons. He reached the milestone despite missing games because of an injury early in the season. The Argentine's 25 goals came in 33 matches.
Messi was tied with Telmo Zarra with six scoring titles. He has also now equaled Hugo Sanchez's feat of four straight top-scorer trophies. "Individual achievements are always secondary," Messi said. "I wished it could have come along with the league title." This is also the third successive season that Messi finished with the most assists — 21 — in the league. Ansu Fati, Luis Suárez and Nelson Semedo also scored Sunday for Barcelona, which had already secured second place behind Madrid.
Fati opened the scoring in the 24th minute, Messi added to the lead 10 minutes later and Suárez closed the first-half scoring in the 44th. Semedo got on the board in the 57th and Messi in the 75th to help Barcelona rebound from a 2-1 home loss to Osasuna. "Today things were different," Messi said. "The team showed better attitude and commitment. It was an important step forward for us ahead of what's left in the season." Barcelona now turns its focus to its Aug. 8 home game against Napoli in the round of 16 of the Champions League. The first leg, played before the break, ended 1-1.
Barcelona coach Quique Setién finished under pressure after the team relinquished a two-point lead over Madrid when the league resumed following the pandemic break. It was four points back before Madrid's match at Leganés. Barcelona defender Clément Lenglet had to be substituted early in the second half because of an apparent muscle injury. Alavés, sitting in 15th, had already done enough to stay up.