Andres Iniesta bids emotional farewell as champions Barcelona end with a win

Andres Iniesta’s final Barcelona appearance ended in victory on an emotional evening at the Nou Camp.

LaLiga champions Barca, who lost their unbeaten record in a 5-4 loss at Levante last week, responded with a 28th win of the season, defeating Real Sociedad 1-0.

Former Liverpool forward Philippe Coutinho, scorer of a hat-trick a week ago, netted the only goal on a night which belonged to Iniesta.

The Spain playmaker was substituted after 81 minutes and received a rapturous reception as he bade farewell to the stage he has graced for so long and so successfully.

The 34-year-old will leave the club this summer 22 years after joining their academy, having won 32 major honours including four Champions League titles and nine LaLiga titles. He took his time to depart, embracing team-mates and soaking in the adoration.

There were 84,168 spectators at the Nou Camp and prior to kick-off a mosaic was formed, turning Iniesta’s number eight on its side to form the infinity symbol.

Barca were almost caught out early on as Adnan Januzaj’s cross was met by Willian Jose. The Brazilian sent a free header into the grateful arms of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The Barca goalkeeper then turned a Januzaj shot around the post for a corner.

The hosts slowly seized control of the game, but the final ball was lacking.

A set-piece fell for Gerard Pique, but the defender could not strike it cleanly.

Ivan Rakitic headed wide from a Ousmane Dembele cross and Luis Suarez next fired just off target.

Barcelona took the lead 10 minutes into the second half with a fine strike from Coutinho.

The Brazilian drove through the left channel, cut back on to his right foot, wrong-footing two defenders. He then curled the ball in off the far post.

Iniesta was hoping to add his name to the scoresheet, but he had the ball stolen off him as he prepared to shoot.

And soon afterwards Coutinho was replaced by Lionel Messi.

Messi tried to play in Denis Suarez, but he shot wide with Luis Suarez in a good position.

Iniesta then said his farewells as Paco Alcacer came on in his place.

With tears in his eyes, the man who was given a contract for life just last October, concluded his illustrious spell as a Barca player.

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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