Saturday, February 24, 2024

Real retain Spanish league title

SoccerNews in La Liga 5 May 2008


Real Madrid have been crowned Spanish champions for the 31st time after defeating Osasuna 2-1 after scoring twice in a sensational final three minutes.

Real were heading for defeat on Sunday after Francisco Punal scored an 83rd minute penalty against ten men Real, who had Fabio Cannavaro sent off, but the champions responded with Arjen Robben and Gonzalo Higuain scoring in the dying minutes.

“We are worthy champions and we fully deserve to win this title,” said Real coach Bernd Schuster.

Thousands of Real Madrid fans converged on the famous Cibeles fountain in the Spanish capital after the match to celebrate their team's 31st league title after a 2-1 win over Osasuna.

Patient fans waited until 2:50 local time (0150 GMT) to greet their returning heroes.

The celebrations come with Real retaining the championship with three games left to play and can go into Wednesday's home match with arch rivals Barcelona in relaxed mood.

After watching Barcelona win successive titles Real have now followed suit and captain Raul Gonzalez is likely to lift the championship trophy on Wednesday although Real supporters will be dancing around the Cibeles fountain tonight.

“We will be celebrating in Cibeles tonight for sure,” said goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

It is a first league title for Schuster in his maiden season after taking over from the sacked Fabio Capello in the summer.

Barcelona put their Champions League disappointment behind them crushing Valencia 6-0 on Sunday as they warmed up for Wednesday's 'El Clasico' against Real.

Five days after crashing out to Manchester United in their Champions League semi-final, Barcelona stayed within four points of second-placed Villarreal, who won 2-0 against Getafe, with a fine display.

“This group of players always had the desire but now and then things happened to us,” said Barca coach Frank Rijkaard.

“The potential on paper is one thing and the reality is something else.”

Barca had failed to score in their last four matches but scored three times against Valencia in the opening quarter hour.

Lionel Messi won and then converted a penalty on five minutes before Xavi (8) and Thierry Henry (14) struck to wrap up the game early on.

Henry, who has had a torrid season, added a second and Bojan Krkic grabbed a brace as Valencia fell apart.

The only downside for Barca is that Samuel Eto'o and Deco will miss the Real match through suspension after collecting cautions.

Valencia are only two points from safety and have a six-pointer against rivals Real Zaragoza, one point below, on Wednesday.

Earlier a brace from Turkish international Nihat helped Villarreal sink Getafe and they are now in the driving seat to finish second.

“It is more comfortable when you have your destiny in your own hands,” said Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini. “If we win our games we will keep second place and that is our objective.”

Elsewhere Sevilla closed to within three points of the final Champions League spot with a crucial 2-0 home win over Valladolid.

Atletico Madrid's win over Recreativo on Saturday put pressure on Sevilla and they responded with a first half brace from Brazilian striker Renato sealing the points.

Sevilla will struggle to hold onto key stars Daniel Alves, Christian Poulsen and Luis Fabiano this summer and Champions League football could be crucial to persuade them to stay.

Brazilian striker Fabiano has led the goalscoring charts for most of the season but Real Mallorca's Spanish international Daniel Guiza moved one ahead in the race for the Pichichi scoring a brace against Athletic Bilbao to take his tally to 24.

Racing are also in the Champions League frame after coming from two goals down to defeat Real Murcia 3-2 on Sunday and move two points behind Atletico in fourth.

Murcia's defeat means they join Levante in being relegated from the top-flight.

A mouthwatering tussle sees Racing host Sevilla on Wednesday in a decisive match for both sides.

“We have the derby coming up against (Real) Betis but I am not thinking of that because Racing is the more important match,” said Sevilla coach Manolo Jimenez.


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