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Sunday, 28 February 2021

Ronaldo brace helps Real Madrid delay Barcelona title

Real Madrid beat Valladolid 4-3 in the 34th matchday of the Spain La Liga on Saturday

AP, Saturday 4 May 2013
Real Madrid
Real Madrid's Kaka from Brazil scores a goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match against Valladolid's at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, in Madrid, Saturday, May 4, 2013 (Photo: AP)
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Views: 983

Cristiano Ronaldo headed in two goals to help Real Madrid come from behind to beat Valladolid 4-3 on Saturday and deny Barcelona the chance to clinch the Spanish league title this weekend.

Madrid's ninth straight home win in league play reduced Barcelona's lead to eight points, meaning the Catalan side can't seal the domestic title by beating Real Betis on Sunday with four rounds still remaining.

Elsewhere, Valencia eased to a 4-0 win over nine-man Osasuna to stay in the hunt for a top-four finish, while Malaga lost 1-0 at Granada to slip three points behind Valencia in sixth place.

Madrid coach Jose Mourinho didn't make many changes from the side that bowed out of the Champions League semifinals to Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday, with Ronaldo as usual the focus of his attack.

Valladolid deployed its passing game early on and went ahead in the eighth minute when forward Oscar Gonzalez picked off a pass for defender Ricardo Carvalho and slotted the ball under goalkeeper Diego Lopez.

Valladolid goalie Jaime Jimenez kept Madrid at bay until Angel Di Maria cut back and unleashed a left-footed strike that Valladolid defender Marc Valiente deflected into his own net in the 26th.

The score even, Madrid pressed the visitors into their area and Ronaldo hit in the 32nd from a cross by Di Maria, deftly flicking the ball under Jimenez.

But just when Madrid looked set to romp, Valladolid leveled at 2-2 when Omar Ramos placed a perfectly weighted pass behind Pepe at the far post for Javi Guerra to tap in.

After Ronaldo rattled the goalframe with a free kick, Kaka restored Madrid's advantage four minutes after halftime by rifling the ball beyond Jimenez after a pass by Karim Benzema came off a defender and fell to the Brazil star in the box.

Ronaldo gave Madrid the cushion it needed in the 70th.

The Portugal forward rose up to meet a Mesut Ozil's corner kick and drive it into the far corner, taking his league goal haul to 33 this season, second only to Barcelona's Lionel Messi with 44.

Valladolid, however, wasn't done and added some drama to the final moments when midfielder Lluis Sastre blasted in a beautiful volley from outside the area three minutes from time.

At Mestalla Stadium, striker Roberto Soldado scored his 19th goal of the season to open for Valencia in the 39th, and Ricardo Costa headed in the hosts' second one minute before halftime.

Osasuna went down a man in the 57th when Alejandro Arribas fouled Soldado from behind with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Ever Banega curled in a free kick three minutes later, before Osasuna's David Timor received his second booking. Jonas then added a penalty in stoppage time when Fernando "Nano'' Macedo handled in the area.

Valencia closed to within two points of fourth-place Real Sociedad- currently in control of the last Champions League berth- before it visits Getafe on Monday. Osasuna is two points above the relegation zone with four games to play.

"We have to keep the pressure up,'' said Valencia coach Ernesto Valverde. "They (Sociedad) are only two points ahead, and they are obliged to win. This is going to be the dynamic until the end.''

Granada striker Odion Ighalo redirected Yacine Brahimi's cross inside the far upright in the 28th to net what proved to be the difference against Malaga.

Granada's second consecutive win lifted it four points above the drop.

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