Ronaldo shades Messi as Real Madrid eye title

BARCELONA - Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed his 54th goal of the season as Real Madrid moved closer to a 32nd La Liga title with a 2-1 win at Barcelona for whom Lionel Messi was reduced to a bit-part role.
Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (L) heads the ball next to Barcelona's Chiliean forward Alexis Sanchez (R). Net photo.
Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (L) heads the ball next to Barcelona's Chiliean forward Alexis Sanchez (R). Net photo.

Saturday
Sporting     2-1     Rayo
Mallorca     1-0     Zaragoza
Barcelona     1-2     Real Madrid
Sevilla         1-1     Levante
Sunday
Granada    1 - 0    Getafe
Sociedad    1 - 1    Villarreal

BARCELONA - Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed his 54th goal of the season as Real Madrid moved closer to a 32nd La Liga title with a 2-1 win at Barcelona for whom Lionel Messi was reduced to a bit-part role.

“It was an important goal but the win for the team is more important, we have four matches left and with the seven-point gap (over Barcelona) we are in a comfortable position,” said Ronaldo.

The Portuguese star later tweeted: “Mission accomplished”.

Ronaldo finished a Mesut Ozil pass from a tight angle on 73 minutes after rounding Victor Valdes in the Barca goal.

Sami Khedira had put Madrid ahead before substitute Alexis Sanchez levelled for Barca to give the Nou Camp faithful -- who had seen their champions crush their bitter rivals 5-1 in the same fixture last year -- a degree of hope.

The goal also means Ronaldo moves one ahead of Messi on 42 league goals in the battle to be ‘pichichi’, La Liga’s top goal-scorer.

On the night, Ronaldo was far more dangerous than Messi, with six attempts at goal to Messi’s one, a statistic which illustrated the Argentine’s miserable evening.

“I am very happy,” added Ronaldo. “I have scored now in the last three games here at Camp Nou, but the most important thing is the team and I congratulate my colleagues on their performance.”

Madrid’s two goals almost meant it was 109 for the season making them the highest-scoring team in a single season in Spanish football history, beating the record of 107 previously held by the Madrid side of the 1989-90 season.

Ronaldo’s winner gave Madrid their first league win over Barcelona in four years and, barring a major stumble, ensured the title will return to the Santiago Bernabeu for the first time since 2008.

It will also end Barcelona’s three-year grip on the title.

For coach Jose Mourinho, it was his first win at Camp Nou with Madrid and only his second triumph in 11 attempts against the Catalans.

Afterwards he continued his policy of not speaking to the press about league games but his assistant Aitor Karanka insisted there was still work to do.

“This match was not decisive in the league title race,” said Karanka. “There are still games and points to play for. Mourinho and the players are all happy, but we are also thinking now of the Champions League.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola hailed Real Madrid as the new champions. “I congratulate Real Madrid for their victory and also for their league title which I have no doubt they have clinched tonight,” said Guardiola.

“We played a good match, but it wasn’t good enough. We played the kind of game that we needed to play but we just couldn’t do it.”

 

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