Real Madrid ended their four-year trophy drought when they won the league
title for the 30th time after a dramatic 3-1 comeback victory over Real Mallorca
at the Bernabeu on Sunday.
Substitute Jose Reyes Antonio was Real's hero, equalising a minute after
coming on in the second half and putting the icing on the cake with a
spectacular third seven minutes from time.
The nine-times European champions topped the final standings by virtue of a
better head-to-head record against arch-rivals Barcelona, whose 5-1 victory at
already relegated Gimnastic Tarragona was to no avail.
For over an hour the title looked to have slipped from Real's grasp as they
trailed to a 17th-minute strike from Mallorca's Fernando Varela, while Barca
But Real produced their customary late show, including a headed goal by
Mahamadou Diarra, to storm back to victory and snatch the title from Barcelona's
"This team has recovered its spirit, this was a fantastic victory," Real
coach Fabio Capello told reporters.
The match marked the final appearances of David Beckham and Roberto Carlos,
who signed off with a championship medal in front of 76,000 adoring fans at the
Mallorca gave Real an almighty scare with barely a minute on the clock when
striker Juan Arango hit the base of the post with a low shot after stealing a
march on defender Sergio Ramos.
Real paid the price for their shaky start soon after when Varela put Mallorca
in front with a low shot past Iker Casillas after Arango slid a perfect pass
behind the static back four.
The Mallorca goal meant Barca were top of the table and the Catalans
consolidated their advantage when they went a goal up after Carles Puyol slid
the ball home at the near post after Lionel Messi had squared a neat pass into
Real suffered another setback when leading scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy was
forced off in the 32nd minute after appearing to pull a hamstring as he ran
Barcelona, meanwhile, went 3-0 up by the break with goals from Messi and
Real struggled to respond at the Bernabeu and the restless crowd called on
Fabio Capello to introduce playmaker Guti to give the side more control in
Capello did just that at the start of the second half but his side continued
to live dangerously with a succession of last-ditch tackles stopping Mallorca
adding to their lead.
The game was turned on its head shortly after Reyes replaced Beckham, who
limped off midway through the second half.
The former Arsenal player equalised a minute later when he fired in from
close range after some dazzling footwork by Robinho and Gonzalo Higuain on the
right side of the area.
The Bernabeu burst into life after Reyes's goal and Real were back on top of
the table 12 minutes later when Diarra, called back from international duty with
Mali, sent a header bouncing off Mallorca's Angelos Basinas and across the line.
Reyes made sure of victory four minutes later with a great strike from the
edge of the area to spark wild celebrations at the Bernabeu as Madrid finished
on 76 points from 38 matches to snatch the Primera Liga title from Barcelona.