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Joy for Real Madrid as they pip Barcelona to La Liga title

Zinedine Zidane’s men started the day three points ahead of their Catalan rivals.

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring.
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring.
Image: Daniel Tejedor

REAL MADRID WON their 33rd La Liga title and first for five years as Cristiano Ronaldo’s 40th goal of the season helped seal a 2-0 victory at Malaga on Sunday.

Ronaldo got Madrid off to the perfect start after just two minutes before Karim Benzema’s close-range finish sealed the title 10 minutes into the second half.

Madrid beat out Barcelona at the top of the table by three points as the Catalans’ come-from-behind 4-2 victory over Eibar in outgoing coach Luis Enrique’s last home game in charge wasn’t enough for a third straight title.

“When you win the league it is a very important moment and for Real Madrid even more so because it is the best club in the world,” Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane told Spanish TV station Movistar.

“We had to return to winning this league.”

Real needed just a point to be assured of the title and any lingering nerves were dispelled within seconds.

Isco latched upon a poor clearance from Luis Hernandez and his sumptuous through ball freed Ronaldo to round Carlos Kameni and fire into an empty net.

“This is the reward for the consistency and sacrifice of 38 games,” said Madrid captain Sergio Ramos.

“This group, this squad deserves it.”

Malaga’s attitude ahead of the game had been questioned after comments by their coach Michel that he would have preferred his former club had won the league before their visit to La Rosaleda to give them a guard of honour.

However, the hosts showed why they had taken 13 points from their previous five games as the first half wore on.

Keylor Navas produced a stunning save to prevent Sandro Ramirez from doing former employers Barca a favour with a superb free-kick.

Sandro then saw another fierce effort deflect inches wide off Keko, who then had a great chance himself when he headed over unmarked from 10 yards out.

However, Ronaldo should have had his second when Kameni got down low to his right to save from point-blank range.

Benzema did make sure of the title early in the second half when he swept home the loose ball after Kameni had saved Ramos’s first effort.

In Barcelona, Enrique was given a warm send-off at the Camp Nou as he was greeted with a giant banner reading: “One of us forever”.

And Barca at least salvaged some pride by fighting back from 2-0 down to avoid a first ever defeat against Eibar.

Japanese midfielder Takashi Inui had the visitors dreaming as he hit a pair of sweetly struck half-volleys in off the underside of the crossbar either side of half-time.

However, David Junca turned into his own net after Neymar had hit the post to start Barca’s revival 25 minutes from time.

Yoel Rodriguez produced an incredible save to deny Lionel Messi from the penalty spot moments later.

Barca weren’t to be denied a sixth straight win to end the season though as Luis Suarez bundled home from close range before Messi made amends with his second penalty 15 minutes from time.

And Messi rounded off the scoring with his 53rd goal of the season in stoppage time.

© – AFP 2017

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