Real Madrid claim Primera Liga title

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Real Madrid claimed their 29th Spanish Primera Liga championship, beating Athletic Bilbao 3-1.

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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San Sebastian, Spain:

Real Madrid claimed their 29th Spanish Primera Liga championship on Sunday night when they beat Athletic Bilbao 3-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. Ronaldo scored twice to seal the first league title of his career. Madrid finished two points ahead of second-place Real Sociedad. The week may have been dominated by David Beckham's move to Real, but on the field, it was the small matter of a Spanish Primera Liga title decider. The stars shone for Real, even though Bilbao made a bright start to the match. Ronaldo tapped in a Roberto Carlos cross for his 22nd league goal of the season in the ninth minute and Real led 1-0. Real Sociedad could have pipped Real Madrid to the post if they beat Atletico, but Madrid would have to lose or draw. And that seemed a distinct possibility when Bitor Alkiza was given time and space and Iker Casillas was just rooted to his spot – the score thus tied at 1-1. But Real restored their one-goal lead in first half injury time after Ronaldo was brought down on the edge of the penalty area. Roberto Carlos smashed the free kick through Bilbao's wall to make it 2-1 and the Primera title was heading back to Madrid. In the other match, Sociedad were leaving nothing to chance. Six minutes after the restart, the previously leaden-footed Darko Kovacevic smashed in a crucial goal. Kovacevic then flicked on Valery Karpin's cross and slack marking from the visitors allowed midfielder Javier de Pedro to pounce at the far post, making the score 2-0. Then Turkish forward Nihat delightfully skipped past a couple of challenges and coolly tucked the ball past the 'keeper and it was 3-0 to Real Sociedad. But Real Madrid were not going to let Sociedad sneak through to win the title, as Ronaldo ran onto a Zinedine Zidane pass and slotted in for a 3-1 lead and the Spanish title. It is hard to see how any team could better Real as an attacking force, but their star-studded line up will be further strengthened next season when Beckham joins the Spanish champions.

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