Ronaldo scored twice as Real Madrid CF claimed their 29th Spanish Primera División title on Sunday following a 3-1 home win against Athletic Club Bilbao.
Madrid, two points clear of second-placed Real Sociedad de Fútbol going into the final match of the season, started brightly inside the Santiago Bernabéu and took the lead through Ronaldo on nine minutes. Luis Figo found Roberto Carlos on the left and his angled low cross gave the Brazilian striker the easiest of finishes.
Bittor Alkiza then equalised for the visitors ten minutes before the interval, bursting forward and firing a dipping shot beyond keeper Iker Casillas as defender Fernando Hierro backed off. With half-time approaching, Ronaldo won a free-kick on the edge of the area and Roberto Carlos smashed a trademark piledriver through the wall and into the back of the net.
Ronaldo then added a third, racing on to a fine through-ball from Zinedine Zidane to finish with aplomb. Vicente Del Bosque's side turned on the style for the remainder of the game, with Zidane hitting a post and Raúl González, winning his fourth title with the club, firing narrowly over from all of 40 metres.
Real needed to beat Club Atlético de Madrid and hope that Bilbao could do them a favour. Real fulfilled their part of the deal with a comfortable 3-0 home win but will have to settle for the runners-up spot and a place in next season's UEFA Champions League along with Madrid, RC Deportivo La Coruña and RC Celta de Vigo.
Darko Kovacevic opened the scoring six minutes after the interval, before Francisco De Pedro doubled the advantage four minutes later. With 73 minutes on the clock, Nihat Kahveci made it 3-0 and ended the match as a contest but the news from the capital was not good for Real fans. As the final whistles sounded, it was Madrid who had emerged victorious in a thrilling title race, with Real certainly gallant runners-up.
Bilbao's defeat in Madrid offered FC Barcelona the chance to take a UEFA Cup berth alongside Valencia CF and Radomir Antic's side obliged with a 2-0 victory over Celta at Camp Nou. Goals from Juan Pablo Sorín in the sixth minute and a second from Javier Saviola five minutes after half-time won the match for Barcelona, while both sides ended the match with ten men after Patrick Kluivert and Lopez Ruano Angel were sent off on 27 minutes.
Four for Betis
Elsewhere, Real Betis Balompié ended the season on a high with a 4-1 away win at Villarreal CF. The hosts took the lead through Antonio Guayre after 13 minutes but Dani equalised eleven minutes later and Joaquín Sánchez put Betis ahead ten minutes before half-time. Dani added a third on 55 minutes and Joaquín completed the rout with 14 minutes remaining.
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