A stunning backheel goal by Cristiano Ronaldo has kept Real Madrid’s faint hopes of winning the treble this season. Real Madrid’s La Liga title hopes seemed all but gone as they trailed Valencia 2-1 at home when the Portuguese superstar struck.
With fulltime looming, Ronaldo latched on to a cross by teammate Angel di Maria and with his back to the goal, volleyed it into the net with his heel.
League leaders Atletico Madrid’s 2-0 defeat away at Levante, in a game overshadowed by fresh claims of racism at a Spanish game, leaves the fellow Madristas needing just four points from their last two games to win the Spanish title for the first time in 18 years.
Atletico boss Diego Simeone is determined to enjoy the final three weeks of an enthralling season as his side face Malaga and Barca before meeting Real in the Champions League final on May 24.
“We have three fantastic weeks ahead, including the game on the 24th. Three finals await us and we have to concentrate on the first of those, which is at home to Malaga next Sunday.
“We have always maintained the same philosophy and our composure. We have always said that we are competing against two very powerful teams and it isn’t often that they lose games.
Real, fresh from Tuesday’s 4-0 win at Bayern Munich in the Champions League, looked in typically dominant form in the early stages.
Valencia fired a warning when the excellent Dani Parejo, a former Real player, had a header tipped on to the crossbar by Real goalkeeper Diego Lopez in the 16th minute and the visitors were ahead when Jeremy Mathieu nodded in at a corner a minute before halftime.
Sergio Ramos levelled with another header in the 59th before Parejo smashed in a loose ball to restore the visitors’ lead six minutes later as Valencia looked to become the first team to win at both Real and Barca in the same season since Real Mallorca in 2002-03.
But Ronaldo produced a stunning piece of skill to volley in Angel Di Maria’s centre in the second minute of added time and salvage a point for the home side.
Real coach Carlo Ancelotti said Ronaldo’s late strike may prove vital to the club’s title chances and lamented a missed opportunity after Atletico and Barca dropped points. “It was a great goal and a very important goal one because to lose this game meant losing the league and the goal at least gives us a chance until the end,” said Ancelotti.
“We have lost an opportunity today, but not a huge one because winning today meant Atletico had to win both games. It was a tough weekend for the leaders and now it’s more open than ever.”
Europa League finalists Sevilla are guaranteed at least sixth place and a berth in Europe’s second-tier club competition after they drew 0-0 to Villarreal.