May 25, 2013 02:43:PM
Real Madrid clinch 32nd La Liga title
May 3, 2012 11:56 am
Real Madrid won their 32nd league title, José Mourinho‘s seventh in four different countries, returning the trophy to the Santiago Bernabéu for the first time in four years. Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty but goals from Gonzalo Higuaín, Mesut Ozil and Ronaldo secured a 3-0 win against the Europa League finalists Athletic Bilbao at San Mamés and wrapped up the title with two matches to spare.
The Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola, had conceded the league title after Real Madrid’s 2-1 victory in the clásico 11 days ago but the current holders obliged their rivals to wait a little longer. Barcelona’s 7-0 victory at Rayo Vallecano prevented Madrid from celebrating success on Sunday night and Wednesday evening’s 4-0 win against Málaga required Real to defeat Athletic.
They did not wait long. Real steamrollered Athletic. After 11 minutes Ronaldo had the chance from the penalty spot to score his 44th league goal of the season. He chose the dinked shot and Gorka Iraizoz went to ground but the goalkeeper still had time to react and stop it with his leg.
Five more minutes passed before Madrid took the lead. Ronaldo and Ozil combined to find Higuaín, who stepped away from Ekiza and, from the edge of the area, smashed it hard and straight into the net by the goalkeeper’s left-hand post. Four minutes after that a slick counterattack, launched as so often by Xabi Alonso, made it two. Ozil reached Ronaldo’s perfectly weighted low pass across the penalty area and side-footed home.
The Portuguese made it 3-0 early in the second half, heading in Alonso’s corner from inside the six-yard box.
The response – powerful, dynamic and insatiable – said much about Madrid’s run-in and about their season. As Barcelona’s pursuit gathered pace, much was made of the fact that Madrid had to travel to the Reyno de Navarra, the Calderón, the Camp Nou and San Mamés, home to Osasuna, Atlético, Barcelona and Athletic respectively and theoretically the toughest arenas in Spain. Madrid won all four, scoring 14 times. As if to reinforce the point, they had also won in Seville and Valencia, scoring nine.
This has been a record-breaking season for Madrid. They have lost twice all season – against Barcelona and Levante – and, if they win their final two games, they will reach 100 points, overhauling Barcelona’s record of 99. They had already surpassed the previous La Liga record of 107 goals and now have 115, 44 of them scored by Ronaldo. He trails Lionel Messi in the race for the Golden Boot, after the Argentinian scored a hat-trick against Málaga which took him to 46 league goals and 68 in all competitions, breaking Gerd Müller’s European record set in 1972-73.
For Mourinho this represented a milestone too. The coach has now won the league title in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain. He is not the first coach to do so as is often believed. Ernst Happel and the current Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni also won the title in four different countries – Holland, Belgium, Germany and Austria in Happel’s case, Italy, Germany, Portugal and Austria in Trapattoni’s. The Croatian coach Tomislav Ivic won the Yugoslav, Dutch, Belgian, Greek, Portuguese and French league titles. But it remains an astonishing record. He was signed to beat Barcelona. Mission accomplished. (Guardian.uk)