Real Madrid clinches Spanish title
Bilbao, Spain (Sports Network) - Real Madrid sealed its first La Liga title since 2007 on Wednesday, easing past 10-man Athletic Bilbao, 3-0, at San Mames thanks to goals from Gonzalo Higuain, Mesut Ozil and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The visiting supporters were on edge as Ronaldo missed an early penalty kick, but Higuain calmed their nerves with the opening goal of the affair in the 16th minute.
Ozil quickly doubled Madrid's advantage, finishing a low cross from Ronaldo at the back post just four minutes later.
Ronaldo wrapped up all three points, and the title, five minutes after the break when he headed home a corner kick delivered by Ozil for his 44th league goal of the season.
Javi Martinez was sent off 18 minutes from time for Bilbao after picking up his second yellow card, leaving the home side no chance at a comeback.
The victory means that Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho has now won at least one league title in four different countries after claiming silverware in Portugal (Porto), England (Chelsea) and Italy (Inter Milan).
Real Madrid has not lost a league match since its 3-1 loss to Barcelona in December. The club has gone on an 18-0-3 run since that contest to clinch the title.
Athletic Bilbao has lost two on the bounce to fall out of the race for a Champions League qualification spot.
Barcelona 4, Malaga 1
Barcelona, Spain - Lionel Messi netted a hat trick to break the record for most goals scored in a European season as Barcelona edged Malaga, 4-1, at Camp Nou on Wednesday.
Carles Puyol opened the scoring after 13 minutes before Jose Salomon Rondon equalized in the 26th minute. Messi then stole the show, scoring from the penalty spot in the 35th and 59th minutes before completing his hat trick in the 64th minute.
Messi's 68 goals in all competitions this season sees the Argentine break Gerd Muller's record of 67 set in 1972-73.
The result means that the Copa del Rey final remains Barcelona's last hope of picking up silverware this season after the club crashed out of the Champions League to Chelsea and surrendered the La Liga title to Real Madrid. The Catalans will face Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Cup final on May 24.
Malaga remains fourth in Spain's top flight, clinging to the final Champions League qualification spot with 55 points on the season.
Atletico Madrid 1, Real Sociedad 1
Madrid, Spain - Carlos Vela scored deep into second-half stoppage time to salvage a point for Real Sociedad in a 1-1 with Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday.
Gabi had gotten Atletico off the mark with a superb shot from 25 yards out early in the second half, but Real Sociedad took advantage of his second yellow card and used the extra man to level the score late through Vela.
Atletico is almost certain to miss out on the Champions League next season as it sits five points adrift of fourth place with two matches to go. Real Sociedad, unbeaten in its last seven league contests, ensured another season in La Liga with the point.
Mallorca 1, Rayo Vallecano 0
Mallorca, Spain - Mallorca kept its hopes of European soccer alive on Wednesday, defeating Rayo Vallecano, 1-0, at the Estadio Son Moix for its third straight win.
Gonzalo Castro provided the lone goal of the affair, scoring in the 62nd minute to see the home side move to within a point of a Europa League spot with two games remaining.
Rayo Vallecano has fallen into a relegation battle having lost five straight in league play as it sits just three points clear of danger.
Real Zaragoza 1, Levante 0
Aragon, Spain - Edu Oriol scored early to see Real Zaragoza claim a crucial 1-0 win over Levante on Wednesday.
Oriol's 11th-minute strike handed Zaragoza its second successive win and moved the club to within three points of 17th-place Rayo Vallecano with two games to go.
Levante sits fifth on 52 points, just three points shy of a Champions League qualification spot.
Real Betis 2, Sevilla 1
Seville, Spain - Benat Etxebarria scored twice, including a late free kick, to earn Real Betis a dramatic 2-1 win over Sevilla at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Wednesday.
Alvaro Negredo had given the home side an early lead, but Etxebarria leveled the score just prior to the break before firing home a late set piece to see Betis take all three points and move nine points clear of the relegation zone.
The result puts a major dent in Sevilla's hopes for European soccer next season as the Rojiblancos sit four points adrift a place in the Europa League.
Valencia 4, Osasuna 0
Valencia, Spain - Valencia ensured a top-four finish Wednesday as it cruised to a 4-0 victory over 10-man Osasuna at the Mestalla.
Dejan Lekic was sent off just before halftime, giving the home side the impetus to seize three points thanks to braces from Aritz Aduriz and Jonas Oliveira inside the final 13 minutes.
Osasuna is winless in its last four matches, sitting ninth on 48 points and looking unlikely to claim a spot in next season's Europa League.