Epic comeback gives Spanish title to Real Madrid

May 5th, 2008 - 12:34 pm ICT by admin  

Madrid, May 5 (DPA) Real Madrid clinched their 31st Spanish league title with an epic 2-1 comeback win away to lowly Osasuna. Real won the title Sunday night, with late strikes from Arjen Robben and Gonzalo Higuain - despite playing all the second half with a man less.

That old fighting spirit gave the whites an unlikely win in rainy Pamplona, in the most adverse of circumstances.

The first half had been a tense, scrappy affair of few openings.

The second half, however, lacked nothing: a red card, a goal disallowed, a penalty - and a late comeback that will go down in Real Madrid history.

Real defender Fabio Cannavaro was sent off one minute into the second half for an ugly foul on Jaroslav Plasil. The Osasuna fans, however, were soon jeering the referee for disallowing a goal from Carlos Vela for handball.

Real needed to win because, earlier in the day, Villarreal had beaten Getafe 2-0.

Wesley Sneijder came close to breaking the deadlock in the 56th minute, but his left-foot chip came back off the crossbar.

The last ten minutes were full of raw passion and breathtaking drama.

In the 82nd minute Osasuna were given a penalty after Gabriel Heinze had handled in the area, and Francisco Punal made no mistake from the spot.

Real came manfully forward, looking for a miracle - and surprisingly achieved one.

In the 87th minute - with Real down to nine as Heinze was off injured - Robben headed in a free-kick from Higuain.

And just two minutes later, with Osasuna begging for the final whistle, Sergio Ramos set up Higuain down the right and the Argentine supersub won with the game with a fierce near-post drive.

The epic win gives Real 78 points from 35 games, ten points more than second-placed Villarreal.

Earlier Sunday, Manuel Pellegrini’s team beat Getafe thanks to two clever goals just before half-time from little Nihat Kahveci, one of the outstanding players of the Spanish season.

The easy win leaves Villarreal four points above Barcelona, who ended their goal drought with a 6-0 thrashing of crisis club Valencia.

Barca kicked off against Valencia in an ambience of pessimism after failing to score for a month. But the goal drought was quickly broken with early goals from Lionel Messi and Xavi Hernandez.

The much-criticised Thierry Henry then took centre stage with two more goals before half-time, with the pathetic Valencia defence shipping water.

On the hour, 17-year-old Bojan Krkic came off the bench and added to Valencia’s misery with two more goals, completing the rout.

In fourth place, six points behind Barca, are Atletico Madrid, who thrashed Recreativo Huelva 3-0 Saturday.

Two points behind Atletico, in fifth place, are Racing Santander, who came back from 2-0 down to beat Murcia 3-2. The latest defeat condemns Murcia to relegation along with bottom team Levante, who drew 1-1 with Espanyol.

There are six candidates for the third relegation place.

Joint third from bottom on 40 points are Huelva and Osasuna. Zaragoza are now on 41 points following Saturday’s last-gasp 1-0 defeat of Deportivo Coruna.

Then come three teams on 42 points: Valencia, Valladolid and Getafe, all of whom lost Sunday.

Valladolid went down 2-0 against sixth-placed Sevilla, for whom Renato scored twice.

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