Cristiano Ronaldo's brace all but clinches Real Madrid's La Liga title in 4-1 Celta Vigo win

Ronaldo celebrates his second goal with Isco. (Reuters)

In a matter of days, Real Madrid will surely end its five-year league title drought. Zinedine Zidane’s men saw to that with a 4-1 victory in Wednesday’s makeup game at Celta Vigo. Now that Real and its only remaining competitor, Barcelona, have each played 37 of their 38 games, Real leads La Liga by three points.

As such, for Barca to win a third straight crown on Sunday, it would need to beat eighth-place Eibar at home and have Real lose at 11th-place Malaga. That would send the title back to Catalonia since Barcelona controls the head-to-head between the sides on account of winning one and tying another of their direct matchups.

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But Real Madrid has lost just one of its last 15 league games, while it has also reached its third Champions League final in four years, to underscore the club’s run of dominance that had yet to materialize in another Spanish championship.

It will take a significant final-day collapse for Real to blow this. And Real, generally, thrives on the biggest occasions.

A pair of Cristiano Ronaldo goals, the first of which broke the all-time career scoring record for goals in the big five leagues, brought Real Madrid to the brink of a record 33rd title. Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos got the other goals for Real, while John Guidetti scored for Celta.

A few dubious decisions by referee Juan Martinez Munuera went Real’s way, including two denied penalty claims for Celta and a controversial sending-off for Iago Aspas. That facilitated a fairly-straightforward victory over a Celta team that wasn’t overly inspired initially, perhaps because it could finish no better than 11th place and no worse than its present 13th.

In the 10th minute, Ronaldo received the ball on the edge of the box after Isco was taken down. He took a touch to open up space and smashed the ball through the legs of Gustavo Cabral, past goalkeeper Sergio and into the net.


That broke Jimmy Greaves’ record for all-time goals in Europe’s five major leagues – Spain, England, Germany, Italy, France – with 367.


After Roncaglia denied Ronaldo a second goal – for a while, at least – with an excellent tackle, Celta went on something of an offensive. Daniel Wass’s rocket of a free kick, right through the wall, was only just punched away by Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas.


Aspas hit the side netting when he should have done better. And Jonny flipped a ball up onto Raphael Varane’s outstretched arm at the edge of the box, which should have at least given Celta a free kick, and maybe even a penalty. But it was hard to tell.


And just following halftime, after Benzema had neglected a major chance with a meek shot right at Sergio, Guidetti had a big look.

But on the breakaway in the other direction, Isco launched Ronaldo, who snuck his finish in off the near post in the 48th minute to double the score.


After the hour, Sergio Ramos clearly knocked down Aspas in the box. But oddly, the ref somehow saw a dive in it and gave the attacker his second yellow card – after a first for dissent – and the corresponding marching orders.


After Navas denied Wass a second time, Guidetti scored with a massive and perhaps karmic deflection off Ramos.


But if that brought tension back to the game, it lasted less than a minute. Because Marcelo beat his man up the left and fed Benzema a tap-in.


Toni Kroos made it four in the 88th minute, when Real won the ball back right outside Celta’s box.


Real could have had more goals. And Ronaldo might have celebrated yet another record with a hat trick. But he inexplicably rolled his point-blank look wide.


Real Madrid is back in first place with a game left. And it has now led the league for 26 out of 37 matchdays. It might have been more, were it not for that game in hand.

It has to hang on for just one more day. All it will take is not to lose.

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a Yahoo Sports soccer columnist. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.

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