Ronaldo struck twice to take Real Madrid to just a point off winning the La Liga title, while breaking Jimmy Greaves’ long-standing European scoring record.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice – once in each half – in a crucial win for Real Madrid as they take their final strides towards a first title in five years. Real came into the game knowing they needed just four points off their final couple of games regardless of how Barcelona do with theirs. And the 31-year old took his chances brilliantly in key moments to put Real in firm control through Wednesday’s encounter
Ronaldo’s goals also took him two beyond Jimmy Greaves’ haul of 366 in Europe’s top-five leagues. It was an all-time record the England striker held since 1971. The Portuguese took 68 fewer games to reach the same tally, highlighting the extraordinary levels he has maintained for years. Against Celta Vigo, too, Ronaldo demonstrated he remains Madrid’s main man, burying an unstoppable left-footed strike from just outside the area for his first, and then timing his run perfectly to finish off an excellent pass from Isco a few minutes from the restart.
Ronaldo overtakes Jimmy Greaves as Europe's greatest league scorer with 367 goals. He's 32 in age and experience, 22 in body and spirit.
— Jonny Gould (@jonnygould) May 17, 2017
Iago Aspas was sent off for diving by referee Munuera just past the hour mark to hobble Celta. Yet John Guidetti instilled some hope of a comeback when his deflected shot made it 2-1 with twenty minutes left. Being a man down, however, turned out a bit too much for the hosts as Real stepped up their attack. Benzema had a simple finish off Marcelo’s cross a minute after Guidetti’s goal. And having struck twice already, Ronaldo should have got a hat-trick in the 76th. But the Portuguese was uncharacteristically off-target from close range. Kroos ultimately wrapped things, slotting in Benzema’s pass for the final nail in the coffin for Celta Vigo in the 89th.
Missed opportunities and Aspas’ sending off seal Celta’s defeat
But for the hosts’ failure to latch on to some real chances, particularly in the first half. Although it was Real Madrid who took the lead via Ronaldo, it was Celta who looked fluent at the start. Having recovered from Ronaldo’s stunner, they began exerting control. Wass eventually forced Navas into a save in the 32nd and Roncaglia had a chance to turn in the rebound only to be let down by some poor positioning. Aspas had a couple of opportunities to strike before halftime. But the 29-year old slammed his first shot into the side-netting and couldn’t curl in the second, leaving Real to head into the break with the lead.
Celta resumed their search for the equaliser in the second half, and almost got it via Guidetti. But the Swede couldn’t manage to dispatch Wass’ ball-in. And then Isco set-up Ronaldo, who made it twice in two in the 49th to double Real’s lead. Once Aspas was handed a second yellow for a seeming dive under Ramos’ challenge a few minutes later, it was game over.
9 – Real Madrid have scored 100+ goals in 9 La Liga seasons; 8 of them since Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival in 09-10 (107 in 89-90). Goal. pic.twitter.com/u77wROUdm0
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) May 17, 2017
It turned out to be another good day at the office for Zidane in the end, with Real now needing just a point in their final league match against Malaga on Sunday to wrap up a 33rd La Liga title. Barcelona did their best to keep neck-and-neck with them since beating them in the last Clasico. But their hopes of Real slipping up has been dashed each week as Zidane’s men continue to display scintillating form – particularly that man Ronaldo. Now Barca can only hope Real stumble much as they did themselves against Malaga, when they lost 2-0 in April.
“I am only thinking about Sunday.”
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane on the importance of Wednesday’s win:
“The most difficult thing remains, although every day it is closer. We have one game left but today was very important. We knew what we were playing for, we had to prepare well. Now it is time to recover from today, we gave a lot, and then later to prepare for Malaga.”
Celta 1-4 Real Madrid FT:
Chances created: 12-11
Pass accuracy: 89%-85%
One step closer to the title. 🏆 pic.twitter.com/UP6dPYaqgO
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 17, 2017
On the team’s performance on the night:
“The collective stood out in general, the attitude and personality was good, without thinking about the points and instead on doing things well. If you do things well then you get your reward.
“With the ball we know that we could hurt any team and today we played against a good team. The first half was end to end and that doesn’t suit us, we were much better with the ball in the second and we played a little better.
I don’t feel like we’re the champions yet. We still need to pick up more points and keep on with what we’re doing. I am only thinking about Sunday.”
On Isco’s form:
“He is a player where when we find him in between the lines, he is always moving and we know the quality that he has – but I like to talk about the team.”
18 – Isco Alarcon has been involved in more goals than any other midfielder in La Liga this season (10 goals and eight assists). Honey. pic.twitter.com/uTOtQeMsW0
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) May 17, 2017
“Where we are is thanks to Zidane’s work.”
Real playmaker Isco was also ecstatic after the match and looking forward to a return to Malaga for the title-deciding game:
“We’ve won another final and now we’ve got the final push. The Malaga match is going to be just as difficult as this one, and we’re very motivated. Ok we’ll need a point, but we’re going to go there looking for a win like we always do.”
“It will be special, it always is going home. And on top of that we’re in with a chance of winning the league, which I’ve still not done yet. I hope it’s a good game and that we’re crowned champions.”
On Ronaldo scoring twice, breaking Greaves’ record and playing with him:
“It’s very easy to play with him. All you need to do is give him the ball near the box and he does the rest. He’s come into the final part of the season like a plane. But it’s not just him, everyone’s like a plane.”
On Zidane’s rotation of players and his management style:
“Where we are is thanks to Zidane’s work. We’re all playing and we all have to do our bit; running, attacking, defending, helping – but that’s what Real Madrid is all about.”