Real Madrid put one hand on the Liga trophy after a 4-1 win over Celta Vigo at Balaidos on Wednesday night saw them move three points clear at the top of the table with just one game left to play.
Zinedine Zidane’s men now just need a solitary point to be assured of their first league title in five years, although if Barcelona fail to beat Eibar on Sunday, the title will be Madrid’s in any case.
No Nacho as Madrid make five changes
Los Blancos made five changes to their side for the trip to Celta with Marcelo, Luka Modric, Casemiro, Isco and Karim Benzema back in the side. Meanwhile Nacho Fernandez, who saw his suspension lifted just hours before the game, was left on the bench.
The visitors went for it from the off, Modric feeding an onrushing Danilo in the very first minute but he saw his shot blocked and out for a corner.
Madrid did not have to wait long though and there was no surprise as to the identity of the scorer. Marcelo curled the ball up to Isco on the left, he managed to nick it square to Ronaldo on the edge of the box who smashed an unstoppable left-footed strike past an unmoving Sergio Alvarez.
The celebrations were wild as the importance of the goal sank in. Ronaldo’s 12th in his last eight games, his 19th in 12 meetings against Celta and ensuring he overtook Jimmy Greaves’ record as the all-time top-scorer in Europe’s top five leagues with 367 goals. We’re rapidly running out of records for the Portuguese to break.
Celta came back into it, however, Casemiro picking up a yellow card after conceding a foul on the edge of the box from which Daniel Wass tested Keylor Navas who could only it parry it, the loose ball fell to Roncalgia but he couldn’t react and appeared to be in an offside position anyway.
Celta furious after being denied penalty
Iago Aspas then got in the action with two shots in quick succession, one into the side-netting and another just wide before the main talking point of the half as Celta were convinced they should have had a penalty.
Jonny on the edge of the area saw his attempted cross come off Raphael Varane who looked to have used his arm, just inside the box. Celta’s protests were loud and lengthy but came to nothing except a booking for Aspas for his remonstrations.
Meanwhile, Madrid could have doubled their lead, Benzema getting free down the right and sending in a low ball for Ronaldo at the far post who looked destined to tap it in before Roncalgia just managed to poke a toe in and clear.
Ronaldo at the double while Aspas sees red
Celta started the second half in the same fashion and should have perhaps scored, John Guidetti wasting a decent chance after good work from Wass and suddenly Madrid could break.
Isco brought the ball out of defence before picking out Ronaldo, who looked offside, but play was waved on and he finished calmly, slotting the ball past Alvarez at his near post. Two goals for Ronaldo, two assists for Isco.
The evening got even worse for Celta on the hour mark, Aspas going down in the box after a Sergio Ramos challenge. The referee was not impressed, handing the striker a second yellow of the evening which looked harsh as there was definitely contact, and effectively ending the game as a contest.
Moments later and an almost identical incident in the opposite area, this time Ronaldo went down, this time there was no yellow card, which would have ruled him out of the final game of the season, this time there were even more protests.
Assistant manager Ernesto Marcucci was sent off in the aftermath and showed his feelings by walking across the pitch instead of around it as tempers briefly flared, Guidetti booked for dissent, the crowd whistling at every opportunity. Heaven only knows what they made of it all back in Barcelona.
Guidetti grabs one back
Down to 10 they may have been, but Celta were fired up and almost grabbed one back through Wass before Guidetti finally got on the scoresheet, his shot taking a huge deflection off Ramos to fly past Navas to leave the goalkeeper still still without a Liga clean sheet since January.
The joy was short-lived, however, Ronaldo and Benzema combining before Marcelo crossed for Benzema to restore their two-goal lead.
Ronaldo then should have had a hat-trick after being clean through and with the goal at his mercy, but took too long, before firing wide with just the goalkeeper to beat.
In the end it was left to Toni Kroos to complete the scoring, Benzema teeing him up and he calmly cut the ball back before firing in at the near post to add some further gloss to the scoreline.
The title race then goes to the final day as Madrid head to Malaga on Sunday, while Barcelona host Eibar, but it is los Blancos who can almost taste the title now.
Celta Vigo: Sergio 7; Mallo 6, Cabral 6, Roncaglia 6.5, Jonny 7; Wass 7, Pablo H 6.5, Jozabed 6 (Diaz 6); Aspas 5, Guidetti 5, Sisto 5 (Pape 6)
Unused subs: Villar, Fontas, Beauve, Hjulsager, Gomez
Real Madrid: Navas 6; Danilo 5, Ramos 6, Varane 7, Marcelo 7.5; Casemiro 6 (Kovacic 6), Modric 6, Kroos 7.5, Isco 8 (Vazquez 6); Ronaldo 8.5 (Asensio 6), Benzema 8.
Unused subs: Casilla, Nacho, Coentrao, Morata
Referee: Juan Martínez Munuera
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