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Real Madrid took a step closer to winning La Liga with a 4-1 victory over Celta Vigo on Wednesday to move three points ahead of Barcelona with one match to play.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice, while Karim Benzema added a third and Toni Kroos got the fourth in Balaidos. Real were cruising when Ronaldo put them two up, but John Guidetti got one back for Celta after the home side had been reduced to 10 men when Iago Aspas received a second yellow card for an apparent dive.
Both teams went with familiar lineups as Celta included Guidetti, Aspas and Pione Sisto in attack, while Real put Benzema and Isco around Ronaldo, per LaLiga English:
The starting XIs at Balaidos!
5/17/2017, 6:17:00 PM
It took Ronaldo less than 10 minutes to put Los Blancos in front. He was quickest to a loose ball after Isco tried to work room for a shot on the edge of the box.
Ronaldo took two touches before firing across a stranded Sergio Alvarez in the Celta goal. The finish meant Ronaldo broke a long-held record, per Sky Sports Statto:
Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto
Cristiano Ronaldo scores his 367th league goal for Real Madrid & Man Utd, breaking Jimmy Greaves record for most goals in Top 5 Euro leagues https://t.co/6AVRFNjYqx
5/17/2017, 7:14:38 PM
His goal also meant Real maintained an awesome record for finding the net in the league during the last decade, according to OptaJose:
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. https://t.co/u77wROUdm0
5/17/2017, 5:10:41 PM
Real were generally cagey after the goal but still created promising chances. The best came just before half-time when Benzema was felled in the box after Isco played him in.
It should have been a penalty, but the referee was unmoved.
Real didn’t need the spot-kick, though, not with Ronaldo in this sort of form. The prolific No. 7 made it two shortly the break when he slotted home after fine work from Isco.
The league leaders have made a habit of scoring on their travels this season, per Sky Sports Statto:
Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto
Real Madrid have now scored 54 away league goals this season, beating their own #laliga record (53 in 2014-15) https://t.co/ViApegnwjd
5/17/2017, 8:10:08 PM
Speaking of habits, it’s becoming one for Isco to create chances in the final third:
18 – Isco Alarcon has been involved in more goals than any other midfielder in La Liga this season (10 goals and eight assists). Honey. https://t.co/uTOtQeMsW0
5/17/2017, 8:15:00 PM
Isco and Ronaldo had fashioned a terrific break, but Yahoo Sport UK’s Andrew Gaffney felt Guidetti bore the lion’s share of responsibility after being wasteful at the other end:
Andrew Gaffney @GaffneyVLC
Guidetti looks like he has a bet not to score. So sloppy when it comes to controlling a ball and ran away from goal. Real counter & score.
5/17/2017, 8:06:15 PM
It was certainly Guidetti’s night, as the Swedish striker spurned more than one excellent chance. Too many of his touches were heavy, while he also appeared to lack the confidence to take shots on early.
Celta’s issues up front were compounded when Aspas received his second yellow card after tangling with Ramos when through on goal. The former Liverpool forward went down late, prompting the referee to judge it a dive and reduce the hosts to 10 men.
Ironically, Celta finally found their scoring touch after seeing their numbers reduced. The goal came from Sisto’s teeing up Guidetti, who finally got one right.
Celta were back in it for mere seconds, though, as Marcelo broke free to slide across for Benzema to tap in from close range. Setting up goals has become common practice for left-back Marcelo this season, per Squawka Football:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Marcelo now has 10 assists in #LaLiga this season; one more than Lionel Messi. 🔥
Not bad for a defender… https://t.co/gUJK1uObeL
5/17/2017, 8:29:37 PM
Ronaldo missed a sitter to ice the game, while Alvarez stunningly denied Benzema in the box, as the visitors made their numerical advantage count. Kroos added gloss to the scoreline after the impressive Benzema played him in.
Real now have the title in their hands but need to avoid defeat in Malaga on the final day to make sure, as Barca own the superior head-to-head record if both teams finish level on points after this Sunday’s final games.
Post-match reaction to follow…