Ronaldo inflicts Real damage on Barcelona
Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed his 54th goal of the season as Real Madrid moved closer to the La Liga title with a 2-1 win at Barcelona that stretched their lead to seven points with just four games left.sports Updated: Apr 22, 2012 23:33 IST
Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed his 54th goal of the season as Real Madrid moved closer to the La Liga title with a 2-1 win at Barcelona that stretched their lead to seven points with just four games left.
Their hope lasted two minutes and nineteen seconds. Just when Barcelona thought there was a chance they might rescue the La Liga title, just as this stadium erupted into noise, just as the faith that had deserted them flooded back, Cristiano Ronaldo tore it all out of their hands again. Alexis Sánchez had given Barcelona a goal and a lifeline with an equaliser midway through the second half, levelling the scores after Sami Khedira had put Madrid ahead in the first half. But 139 seconds later Ronaldo brilliantly stepped around Víctor Valdés to make the return of the title from the Camp Nou to the Bernabeu all but certain.
Pep Guardiola had insisted before this latest clásico that the equation was simple: lose or draw and Real Madrid would be league champions.
The trophy is now on its way from Catalonia to Castille. Seven points separate these sides with only four matches remaining. There could yet be a final showdown should they both make it to the Champions League final in Munich, but Madrid were the victors here.
Madrid and Jose Mourinho: this should be the Special One's seventh league title, spread across four different countries.
Madrid's 2-1 win almost certainly puts an end to the Barcelona's title pursuit. Trailing by 10 points only a few weeks ago, Barça, had cut the lead to four. This was the game, they said, in which it would be down to one. If that was presumptuous, there was logic to it: under Mourinho Madrid had won only one of 10 clasicos.
It was always the Catalans who were on the edge of the abyss. When, momentarily, it looked like they might not fall, Ronaldo pushed them over the edge with his 42nd goal of the season.
Few deserve the title like he does. Always the first outlet, invariably the source of greatest danger, Ronaldo was involved in Madrid's opener after 15 minutes. Until then, Barcelona had struggled to reach their front three. Madrid's wide men were isolated too, but they lay in wait for the quick ball to release them.
Soon, it came. Ronaldo dashed ahead of Sergio Busquets on the left and cut across him, with space opening up ahead and the Barcelona midfielder immediately behind. The Portuguese went down and from the swinging free-kick came a deflected Angel di Maria shot. From the resulting corner came a goal.
First Published: Apr 22, 2012 23:32 IST