Real on the brink of La Liga title

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo is swamped by his team-mates after scoring the opening goal in his side's 4-1 victory against Celta Vigo.
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo is swamped by his team-mates after scoring the opening goal in his side's 4-1 victory against Celta Vigo.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Ronaldo's brace inspires victory against Celta Vigo; drawn final game enough to take league

MADRID • Real Madrid are close now. They have just one game left and a draw would be enough to take them to their first LaLiga title in five years.

Win their next game after that and they could well claim a league and European Cup double for the first time in 59 years.

Real are on top of the LaLiga standings on 90 points, three points ahead of their nearest rivals Barcelona, meaning they need just one point from their remaining league game at Malaga on Sunday to lift a first title since Jose Mourinho's 2012 success.

For three months they had waited to play Celta Vigo after a storm tore through Galicia and the Balaidos stadium roof, forcing the match's postponement.

On Wednesday night they finally met, two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and one each from Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos giving them a 4-1 win.

"We will go there (to Malaga) to win the game," insisted Ronaldo.

"We are Real Madrid, we are the best and we want to be champions."

Once again the Portuguese forward made the difference as he took his tally to 13 goals in his last eight games with early strikes in each half.

  • 368

  • Cristiano Ronaldo's Real Madrid league goals, overtaking Jimmy Greaves (366) as the all-time top scorer in the top five leagues.

His first came early, as he smashed left-footed through the legs of Gustavo Cabral and past Sergio to take Real beyond Barcelona and also to surpass Jimmy Greaves, the former English striker.

It was his 367th goal and no player has ever scored more in Europe's five major leagues. It was his 38th goal of the season, his 23rd in the league.

His second goal came three minutes into the second half when he latched on to a pass from the impressive Isco.

Controversy erupted in the 62nd minute, as Referee Juan Martinez Munera showed Celta's Iago Aspas a second yellow card for diving when he appeared to have been tripped by Sergio Ramos inside the area.

Even with 10 men, Celta did manage to pull a goal back in the 69th minute, when John Guidetti's effort deflected past the helpless Keylor Navas off Ramos.

But Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos made it a rout to keep Real on course for a LaLiga and Champions League double. Real play Juventus in the Champions League final on June 3 in Cardiff.

"We played with incredible attitude and personality," said Real manager Zinedine Zidane.

"But the most difficult part is still to come even though we're getting closer (to the title) every day.

"We have one game left but today was very important. We know what we need to do, we need to prepare well and recover from today as we gave so much."

The Frenchman went with the same side that withstood an Atletico Madrid revival to get to the Champions League final a week ago.

"He has managed things very well," Ronaldo said.

"I feel good. Everything is decided in the final weeks of the season and I am doing well. I am scoring goals and helping the team."

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2017, with the headline 'Real on the brink of La Liga title'. Print Edition | Subscribe