Andres Iniesta's illustrious Barcelona career came to an end with a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad at a Camp Nou in celebratory mood.
The 34-year-old had announced in April that he would leave the Catalan giants at the end of the season – just two days before Ernesto Valverde's side beat Deportivo La Coruna to confirm a 25th LaLiga title.
Played out against that backdrop it was hardly surprising that, at times, it felt more like a testimonial match rather than the final league game of the season.
Iniesta demonstrated his abundant repertoire in a dominant first-half display, finding his team-mates with an array of precise and inventive passes, something he has done with distinction since his debut in the 2002-03 campaign.
While the World Cup winner was not involved in the game's solitary goal, he will have surely looked on admiringly as Philippe Coutinho whipped in a fine finish from outside the area after 57 minutes.
The curtain eventually came down on Iniesta’s time with Barca in the 81st minute, the midfielder leaving the field to a rapturous reception and handing over the captain’s armband to Lionel Messi in a symbolic gesture.
In a bright, open start it was the visitors who carved out the first clear sight of goal though, Willian Jose heading straight at Marc-Andre ter Stegen from Adnan Januzaj's clipped cross.
The Belgian winger then tested Barca's goalkeeper himself soon after with a whipped effort from outside the penalty area before Iniesta came close to a fairytale goal – his low strike flashing past Miguel Angel Moya's right-hand post and into the side netting.
A rejuvenated Ousmane Dembele then delivered two fine crosses in quick succession that should have resulted in an opener. First, an unmarked Ivan Rakitic failed to locate the target with a header from 10 yards and then Luis Suarez scuffed a shot wide from the Frenchman's low ball into the box.
Sociedad were fortunate not to be reduced to 10 men moments before the interval when Raul Navas hacked down a marauding Dembele, referee Jose Luis Munuera Montero opting to give the defender just a yellow card.
Barca started the second period with a spring in their step and were rewarded with a goal of the highest calibre from Coutinho.
The Brazilian – who netted a hat-trick in last weekend’s remarkable 5-4 defeat to Levante, a result that ended Barca's unbeaten record in the league this term – cut in from the left and unleashed a trademark curled finish from 25 yards that crashed in off Moya's left-hand post.
Messi almost set up a second within minutes of his introduction, only for fellow substitute Denis Suarez to shoot too close to Moya, while the Argentine forward failed to direct a header beyond the Sociedad goalkeeper from Luis Suarez's cross.
Iniesta’s long goodbye finally came to an end nine minutes from time when he was replaced by Paco Alcacer, while there was also time for Sociedad to pay tribute to their own legendary midfielder in Xabi Prieto, the 34-year-old coming on for the final few minutes ahead of his impending retirement.
Key Opta stats:
- Only Xavi Hernandez (767) has made more appearances for Barcelona than Iniesta in all competitions (674).
- Iniesta is the second player with the most wins in La Liga in the 21st century (312, Casillas 311), after Messi (315).
- No other player has scored more goals from outside the box than Coutinho in Europe’s big five leagues this season (eight, level with Messi, four with Barcelona and four with Liverpool).
- Barca are unbeaten in 35 consecutive games at Camp Nou in LaLiga (W29 D6), their best unbeaten home streak since November 1993 (40 - W34 D6).
- Barcelona (99 goals) have failed to reach 100+ goals in a single league season for the first time since 2010/11 (95 goals).
- Prieto has made 376 appearances in LaLiga - only five players have made more for Sociedad.
|I may have to dust my boots off! - Pele threatened by Mbappe exploits|
|WATCH: Mendy and Pogba dab with president Macron after World Cup win|
|Woods embracing ´different´ Carnoustie challenge ahead of Open return|
|Argentina dismiss Sampaoli after chaotic World Cup|
|France celebrates World Cup triumph|
|Djokovic made ´improvised Wimbledon trophies´ as a boy|
|Stone goes agonisingly close to 59 as Pepperell & Dantorp also make Open|
|Outcast Benzema delights in France win|
|Final a triumph in itself given Croatia´s off-field turmoil|
|Anderson laments Wimbledon final nerves|
|Deschamps joins elite club, Mbappe second to Pele - the best stats from the World Cup final|
|Belgium´s Courtois wins World Cup Golden Glove|
|Collarbone fracture confirmed for ´devastated´ Porte|
|World Cup final player ratings: Griezmann, Mbappe inspire France as Croatia fall short|
|World Cup winner Giroud ends tournament without shot on target|
|Modric wins World Cup Golden Ball|
|Mbappe wins World Cup Young Player award|
|Deschamps redeemed as France win World Cup final for the ages|
|France 4 Croatia 2: Twitter Report|
|Tomlin optimistic over Bell contract|
|Kane wins World Cup Golden Boot|
|Ajax keen on Blind deal - Van der Sar|
|France 4 Croatia 2: Pogba and Mbappe seal thrilling World Cup triumph|
|Anderson would have played another 21 hours to reach Wimbledon final|
|Djokovic delighted to crown ´comeback´ with Wimbledon glory|
|World Cup final interrupted by pitch invaders - Pussy Riot claim responsibility|
|Djokovic´s grass-court U-turn pays ultimate dividends with Wimbledon title|
|Mandzukic makes World Cup history with early own goal|
|Dominant Djokovic beats Anderson to regain Wimbledon title|
|Everybody said I´m done - Degenkolb revels in first Tour victory|
|´Big party´ for Marquez after Sachsenring success|
|Hazard enjoys Belgium´s welcome home|
|Ex-AC Milan president Berlusconi conflicted over Ronaldo to Juventus|
|Spain did not contact Martinez over head coach vacancy|
|Maybe the VAR was watching The Simpsons! - RSL coach Petke slams MLS officials|
|Cubs´ Darvish hopes to return by next weekend|
|France and Croatia name unchanged sides for World Cup final|
|Marquez maintains Sachsenring dominance|
|Courtois claims World Cup has boosted his value|
|Buffon beaten on difficult PSG debut|
|Vince called up for Headingley decider|
|Farah inspires Tigers win over Dragons, Warriors and Roosters triumph|
|Crash forces Porte out of Tour for second year running|
|Ronaldo considered Napoli move, says De Laurentiis|
|Mafi arrested for allegedly assaulting Rebels team-mate|
|Everybody is welcome - Croatia pitch for neutral support in World Cup final|
|West Ham seal club-record swoop for Felipe Anderson|
|Rooney applauds England for capturing fans´ imagination|
|Krajicek urges Anderson to go for broke in Wimbledon final|
|Wimbledon 2018: Djokovic v Anderson in Opta numbers|
|Kohli defends Dhoni after Lord´s boos|
|Wimbledon finalist Djokovic can win the next six majors, claims Krajicek|
|We´re ´blessed´ to watch Mbappe, says Kaka|
|Bogaerts hits walk-off grand slam to deliver Red Sox win over Blue Jays|
|Cardinals dismiss Matheny, name Shildt interim manager|
|Pacquiao knocks out Matthysse to win welterweight title|
|Didulica expects ´cagey´, tight World Cup final|
|MLS Review: Rooney impresses on debut, Galaxy leave it late|
|Truex dominates to win Quaker State 400 again|
|Kim in control at John Deere Classic|
|Braves place closer Vizcaino back on DL, manager concerned about injury|
|Long on Eagles having Wentz, Foles: It´s really a dream|
|Effenberg: I´d prefer Mandzukic over Neymar|
|Courtois open to Chelsea stay amid Madrid links|
|Rays´ Ramos won´t play All-Star Game due to hamstring injury|
|Gary Sanchez injury update: Yankees catcher on track to return after All-Star break|
|Windies crush Bangladesh again to seal series win|
|Klopp backs Lovren´s lofty ´best in the world´ claim|
|Root welcomes ´ruthless´ England display|
|Martinez on target in impressive Inter debut|