Real Madrid clinch La Liga title after Cristiano Ronaldo’s heroics against Malaga
Real Madrid won their 33rd La Liga title after defeating Malaga 2-0 thanks to goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.Updated: May 22, 2017 01:42 IST
Real Madrid clinched the LaLiga title for the first time since 2012 with a 2-0 win over Malaga courtesy of goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, rendering Barcelona’s comeback victory against Eibar irrelevant.
Ronaldo continued his remarkable run of form, scoring his 25th league goal of the season in the second minute at La Rosaleda to take his tally to 14 in his last nine games in all competitions.
Benzema doubled Madrid’s lead with his 11th league goal of the season to make it 2-0 after 55 minutes and Zinedine Zidane’s side, who needed just a point to be crowned champions, had extra cause for celebration by becoming the first in the club’s history to score in every La Liga game of the season.
The result keeps Madrid on course for a league and European double and, with Ronaldo playing his best football for some time, Zidane’s men will be confident of beating Juventus in the Champions League final.
Malaga tested Madrid’s resolve and forced a number of good saves from goalkeeper Keylor Navas, but lacked the quality to cause an upset.
The hosts made the worst possible start when Luis Hernandez clumsily played the ball to Isco and the Madrid midfielder instantly slotted an immaculate throughball to Ronaldo, who skipped around Carlos Kameni and rolled into an empty net.
Sandro Ramirez had the chance to equalise for the home side after 12 minutes, but his low shot was saved by Navas at his near post when there were Malaga players crying out for a cross.
Navas risked injury to save a blistering free-kick from Sandro after 20 minutes, turning the ball around the post with a one-handed block before colliding with the frame of the goal and taking a blow to the ribs.
Kameni made a brilliant stop to prevent Ronaldo from scoring a second goal after 33 minutes, when Benzema’s cross was allowed to run by Mikel Villanueva, and the Malaga goalkeeper blocked a low drive from Toni Kroos moments later.
Madrid’s slender lead remained intact at the break, but only after Keko Gontan looped a header just over the crossbar from Jony Rodriguez’s pinpoint cross.
The second half almost started in disaster for Madrid when Ronaldo went down holding his knee after a challenge from Malaga’s Federico Ricca, but he opted to stay on the field.
Madrid doubled their lead after 10 minutes of the second half when Kroos’ corner found Sergio Ramos and, after the defender’s shot was saved by Kameni, the rebound hit Raphael Varane on its way into the path of Benzema, who appeared to be in an offside position before his bundled the ball into the net.
Navas made a diving save to prevent Ignacio Camacho from pulling a goal back moments later, and Benzema had the ball in the net again after 70 minutes but the offside flag was correctly raised.
Zidane substituted Isco, Casemiro and Benzema in the closing stages and Malaga substitute Gonzalo Castro hit the crossbar in injury time as the champions elect began to lose focus, but their full attention soon turned to celebrating a first title in five years when the final whistle blew.
First Published: May 22, 2017 01:40 IST