Monday, May 16, 2011
Cristiano Ronaldo's 51st goal ends Yellow Submarine's hopes of third place
Portuguese scores brace of free kicks to move on to 51 goals for the season and ensure victory for capital club.
Cristiano Ronaldo broke two milestones as his free kick brace and a Marcelo goal helped Real Madrid to a 3-1 win over Villarreal in La Liga. The result left the Yellow Submarine without automatic Champions League qualification as they had to settled for fourth place and a spot in the playoff.
The visitors enjoyed the majority of possession in the opening stages, but it was the home side which came closest to taking the lead in the first 15 minutes. Marco Ruben took advantage of some indecision from Pepe and Iker Casillas to sneak in and lob the ball into the net, but the Argentinian was unaware that he had been flagged as offside.
Giuseppe Rossi should have put Villarreal ahead in the 15th minute after evading challenges to drive into the box and dance around Casillas, only to take a heavy touch and allow Pepe in to make the interception on the line after a pass from the Italian.
The scoring began in the 17th minute when Real Madrid counterattacked at high pace with Kaka driving forward and slipping a ball into the bath of Marcelo, who ran through on goal and delightfully chipped the ball over Diego Lopez.
Cristiano Ronaldo doubled the lead of the away side four minutes later with a trademark free kick from 25 yards that evaded Diego Lopez and found its way into the top left corner.
Real Madrid looked in cruise control and went into the break with a healthy two goal lead over the hosts.
Villarreal did not waste much time after the interval and clawed a goal back in the 51st minute when Mario Gaspar out muscled Marcelo on the Real Madrid byline and pulled a pass back to Cani who tucked the ball away in the corner after making a late run into the box.
As the second half went on it became more of an even contest and both sides came close to adding to the tally as Mario shot just wide of the right hand post from distance and Diego Lopez denied Ronaldo after a left footed shot from the right flank.
But Ronaldo grabbed his 51st goal of the season just seconds before the final whistle with another free kick, this time from 30 yards, that flew in the top corner and left Diego Lopez rooted to the spot.
This victory leaves Real Madrid on 89 points and the club remains runners up to champions, Barcelona. Villarreal now faces a grueling qualification match in order to progress to the Champions League group stage next season.