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Xavi wins his last game as Barcelona coach in final round of Spanish league

MADRID (AP) — Xavi Hernández ended his stint as Barcelona coach with a 2-1 win at Sevilla in the final round of the Spanish league on Sunday.

Robert Lewandowski and Fermin López scored for Barcelona, which announced Friday it was parting ways with the former midfielder with a year left on his contract.

“We didn’t want this to end, but these are decisions made by the club,” Xavi said. “We didn’t win titles but we were on the right track. But soccer is like this, the directors will make their decisions. The response by the players was wonderful.”

Barcelona players bid farewell to Xavi after the match.

“We will always wish Xavi the best,” goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen said. “He’s been a friend for many years and it’s not easy to let him go ... He deserves the best.”

Barcelona had already clinched second place and a spot in the lucrative Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia next season. It finished with four consecutive victories.

Youssef En-Nesyri scored for Sevilla, which ended 14th place after four straight losses.

En-Nesyri’s goal came in the 31st minute, after Lewandowski had put Barcelona ahead in the 15th. López netted the winner for the Catalan club in the 59th.

Xavi’s departure came a month after he had walked back a previous decision he made in January to leave the club this summer. In April, he said that he had changed his mind because the team was playing better and he believed it could bounce back from a trophy-less season.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta had publicly celebrated Xavi’s commitment to stay at that time. But last week the president was reportedly unhappy when the head coach spoke openly about how the club’s poor finances would impede it from competing with fierce rival Real Madrid.

“Those who made the decision need to explain it,” said the 44-year-old Xavi, who plans to take a break from coaching.

There was little to be decided in the league’s final round on Sunday. Champion Madrid, focused on the upcoming Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley, drew 0-0 with Real Betis on Saturday.

Barcelona, Girona and Atletico Madrid were the other three teams that qualified for the Champions League next season, while Basque Country rivals Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad will play in the Europa League. Betis earned the Conference League berth.

The three relegated clubs were Cadiz, Almeria and Granada.

In other results Sunday, Mallorca won 2-1 at Getafe, Celta Vigo drew 2-2 with Valencia, and Alaves drew 1-1 at Las Palmas.

Girona striker Artem Dovbyk ended as the league’s top scorer this season with 24 goals, one more than Villarreal’s Alexander Sorloth. Lewandowski and Madrid’s Jude Bellingham were third with 19 goals.

Madrid finished with the best attack with 87 goals scored, and the best defense with 26 goals conceded.


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