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Ronaldo brings Real Madrid closer to La Liga title

Updated May 19, 2017 06:59am
VIGO: Real Madrid’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo shoots to score the opener during their La Liga match against Celta Vigo at the Balaidos stadium.—AFP
VIGO: Real Madrid’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo shoots to score the opener during their La Liga match against Celta Vigo at the Balaidos stadium.—AFP

MADRID: Real Madrid moved to within one point of winning La Liga as Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice to beat Celta Vigo 4-1 on Wednesday.

The European champions lead Barcelona by three points at the top of the table and now need to just avoid defeat at Malaga on Sunday to secure their first league title in five years.

“We will go there to win the game,” insisted Ronaldo. “We are Real Madrid, we are the best and we want to be champions.” Once again Ronaldo made the difference as he took his tally to 13 goals in his last eight games with early strikes in each half.

Iago Aspas was then controversially sent-off when he saw a second yellow card for diving, but Celta halved the arrears through John Guidetti’s deflected effort.

However, Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos rounded off the scoring to keep Madrid on course for a La Liga and Champions League double.

“We played with incredible attitude and personality,” said Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.

Ronaldo was starting his first La Liga game away from home for nearly two months as in contrast to recent weeks, Zidane didn’t rotate his starting XI.

The Frenchman went with the same side that withstood an Atletico Madrid revival to book their place in the Champions League final a week ago.

And he was rewarded early on as Marcelo fed Isco and after he was dispossessed on the edge of the area, Ronaldo smashed the loose ball high into the net.

“He has managed things very well,” Ronaldo added on Zidane.

“I feel good. Everything is decided in the final weeks of the season and I am doing well. I am scoring goals and helping the team.”

Points table after Wednesday’s match (played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points):

Real Madrid 37 28 6 3 104 41 90 Barcelona 37 27 6 4 112 35 87 Atletico Madrid 37 22 9 6 67 26 75 Sevilla 37 20 9 8 64 49 69 Villarreal 37 18 10 9 53 32 64 Athletic Bilbao 37 19 6 12 52 40 63 Real Sociedad 37 19 6 12 57 51 63 Eibar 37 15 9 13 54 47 54 Alaves 37 14 12 11 40 42 54 Espanyol 37 14 11 12 47 49 53 Malaga 37 12 10 15 49 53 46 Valencia 37 13 7 17 55 62 46 Celta Vigo 37 13 5 19 51 67 44 Las Palmas 37 10 9 18 53 71 39 Real Betis 37 10 8 19 39 62 38 Leganes 37 8 10 19 35 54 34 Deportivo 37 7 12 18 40 61 33 Sporting Gijon 37 7 9 21 40 70 30
Osasuna 37 4 10 23 40 89 22 Granada 37 4 8 25 29 80 20

Note: 1st-3rd: Automatic Champions League qualification 4th: Champions League play-off round 5th & 6th: Europa League qualification 18th-20th: Relegated—AFP

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2017