Real Madrid a draw away from Spanish title after win over Celta
Real Madrid a draw away from Spanish title after win over Celta
Ronaldo scored early in each half as Madrid defeated 10-man Celta Vigo 4-1 on Wednesday to retake the league lead from Barcelona and move within a point of winning the title.
A draw at mid-table Malaga in the final round on Sunday will allow Madrid to lift the trophy and avoid its longest title drought in La Liga since the 1980s.
“One game to go,” Ronaldo said. “We have to keep going until the end.”
The victory at Celta in a game postponed from February because of bad weather gave Madrid a three-point lead over Barcelona, which hosts eighth-place Eibar in its final match on Sunday. The Catalan club still has a chance of winning its third straight title because of a better head-to-head tiebreaker.
“We played with a very good attitude, with a lot of determination and personality,” Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. “We knew that the three points were the most important thing, but we went out there to play, the win was only a consequence.”
Madrid played with an extra man after the controversial sending off of Celta forward Iago Aspas, who picked up a second yellow in the 62nd minute for an alleged dive inside the area after a challenge by Madrid defender Sergio Ramos.
Celta players loudly complained, and there were more complaints a few moments later when Ronaldo fell inside the other box in an apparent flop — but was not shown a yellow card that would have suspended him from the final round.
Ronaldo opened the scoring at the Balaidos Stadium after picking up the ball just outside the area and firing a firm left-foot shot into the corner. The ball went through the legs of defender Gustavo Cabral and gave goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez no chance.
Ronaldo added to the lead after halftime with a well-placed shot from inside the area after receiving a perfectly timed pass by Francisco “Isco” Alarcon in a breakaway.
It was Ronaldo’s 13th goal in his last eight matches, and 24th in league. The Portugal star missed the chance for a hat trick in the 75th minute, incredibly missing from close range with only the goalkeeper to beat.
“I did the hardest part, which was to score the first goal and then the second,” Ronaldo said. “Obviously it’s not common for me to miss like that, but it can happen, I’m human and I also make mistakes.”
Ronaldo had not played an away match in the league since March, a run of four straight games.
Celta, with nothing left to play for, improved after conceding the first goal and started to threaten, with Aspas creating a series of chances. But its hopes of a comeback started to sink after Ronaldo found the net for the second time, and then sank further after Aspas was dismissed.
Celta’s lone goal was scored by John Guidetti with a shot from outside the area in the 69th, just a minute before Karim Benzema restored Madrid’s two-goal lead from close range after a left-flank cross by Marcelo. Toni Kroos completed the scoring in the 88th.
Celta had eliminated Zidane’s team from the Copa del Rey quarterfinals this year, beating Madrid 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and drawing 2-2 at the Balaidos. It reached the semifinals of the Europa League, being eliminated by Manchester United.
The game against Celta was originally scheduled to be played on Feb. 5 but was postponed because heavy winds damaged the roof of the Balaidos, making it unsafe for players and spectators.
Madrid wanted to avoid Celta so late in the season, but there were no other dates available as Celta was in the Europa League and Madrid in the Champions League. Madrid will play Juventus in the Champions League final on June 3.
Manchester United inflict more semifinal misery on sorry Spurs
- Manchester United come from behind to make FA Cup final.
- Mauricio Pochettino yet to win a trophy as manager.
A third cup final with Manchester United for Jose Mourinho. More FA Cup semifinal misery for Tottenham.
While Mauricio Pochettino wins admiration for his style of football, the manager has yet to actually win a trophy in management.
A 2-1 collapse to United at Wembley Stadium on Saturday left Tottenham reeling from an eighth successive loss in the FA Cup semifinals.
Pochettino is responsible for two of the setbacks, having also fallen short against Chelsea last season.
At the stadium where Tottenham have been playing their home matches this season, Dele Alli's goal gave the 1991 FA Cup winners hope of turning around their miserable record in world football's oldest knockout competition.
But Alexis Sanchez leveled in the 24th minute and Ander Herrera struck the winner in the second half. It ensured Mourinho, who won the League Cup and Europa League in his first season at United, has a chance to also end this campaign with silverware against Chelsea or Southampton in the FA Cup final.
"We're getting used to being in finals," Herrera said. "This club is all about titles and finals."
While Mourinho has fallen short in the English Premier League behind newly crowned champion Manchester City, United are second and on course for their highest finish since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
Tottenham would settle with holding onto fourth place to secure a third season in a row in the Champions League.
Liverpool missed a chance to considerably stretch its advantage over Tottenham in one of Saturday's two league games. Juergen Klopp's side threw away a two-goal lead to draw with last-place West Bromwich Albion 2-2 and move only three points ahead of Tottenham.
Chelsea, who plays Southampton in the other FA Cup semifinal on Sunday, are five points behind Tottenham with four games remaining.
When United fell behind to Tottenham, Paul Pogba was culpable.
A high ball was launched forward by Tottenham, a lethargic Pogba didn't try to break sweat in an attempt to prevent it reaching Eriksen. It allowed the Dane to whip in a cross for Alli to slide onto at the far post and strike past David De Gea in 11th minute
Had Harry Kane made a connection at the far post with Son Heung-min's cross three minutes later, Tottenham might have extended their lead.
Instead, United were able to draw level. Pogba made amends for his earlier inertia by dispossessing Mousa Dembele and delivering a cross that Sanchez headed past static goalkeeper Michel Vorm.
Sanchez did the hard work to create the winner in the 62nd, holding off Kieran Trippier and rolling the ball into the penalty area where Jesse Lingard teed up Herrera to shoot past Vorm.