La Liga: Barcelona are Spanish champions after Real Madrid draw

Real Madrid duo Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and Raul Albiol

Barcelona clinched their fourth Spanish league title in five years after defending champions Real Madrid failed to defeat Espanyol on Saturday.

Real needed to win to keep their slim La Liga hopes alive but Jose Mourinho's team could only manage a 1-1 draw.

Christian Stuani's 23rd-minute strike put Espanyol in front before Gonzalo Higuain equalised with a glancing header after the break.

Barcelona are now seven points clear of Real, who have two games left to play.

Barca, who have four games left, are next in action on Sunday, when they play Atletico Madrid in the Spanish capital.

Real had won their previous six fixtures ahead of Saturday's match but, with his team taking on Madrid rivals Atletico in next Friday's Copa Del Rey final, coach Mourinho opted to leave out several key players.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Xabi Alonso, who came on as a first-half substitute for the injured Raphael Varane, were both named on the bench.

It perhaps explained the disjointed nature of Real's performance and they were lucky not to fall two goals behind when Hector Moreno had a header disallowed for a push on Alonso.

However, Higuain equalised after 58 minutes, shortly after the introduction of Portugal forward Ronaldo.

Espanyol were reduced to 10 men in injury-time after Victor Sanchez picked up his second booking for a tackle on Higuain but Ronaldo missed with the subsequent free-kick.

It means that Barca have immediately wrestled the league title - their 22nd - back from the grasp of Real, who finished top of La Liga last season.

The title is the first for coach Tito Vilanova, who took over from Bayern Munich-bound took over from Bayern Munich-bound Pep Guardiola after he left the Nou Camp last summer.

Barcelona's football vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu told BBC Sport: "We are very satisfied with the season.

"Our objective this season was to win the League. Last season we won the Spanish Cup so to win the league is a very, very high performance from our team."

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