BILBAO, SPAIN - MAY 02: Gonzalo Higuain of Real Madrid CF celebrates after scoring Real's first goal during the La Liga match between Athletic Club and Real Madrid CF at estadio San Mames on May 2, 2012 in Bilbao, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
What a beautiful ending to the Liga title as Real Madrid managed to beat Athletic Bilbao and clinch the 32nd domestic title for the club at San Mamés. No team in the history of football had celebrated a title in Bilbao's stadium until this 2011-12 Real Madrid.
The team was able to overcome another Cristiano Ronaldo miss from the penalty spot when the game was still tied in the 12th minute. Mourinho replaced Di María, Marcelo and Benzema with Callejón, Coentrao and Higuaín. The team hasn't played particularly well with both Higuaín and Callejón in the lineup, especially against narrow defensive lines that don't leave much space behind the midfielders, but Mourinho's players put up a great performance today, with Mesut Özil showing he is fully ready to play in the Euro Cup with Germany and battle against some of his Spanish teammates.
Barcelona won against Málaga, so Real Madrid knew they still needed a win to clinch the title. It was not going to be easy, but Bilbao didn't fight back a lot after Higuaín and Özil's goals. Ronaldo missed Real Madrid's first chance to get la Liga title, after Javi Martínez touched the ball inside the box with his hands. He shot it very lightly and to the center, so Gorka Iraizoz didn't have a hard time trying to stop it.
But three minutes later, Higuaín received the ball and found the space needed to shoot the ball and score a brilliant goal. The combined play with Özil, Ronaldo and Pipita was very quick, disarming Athletic's defense and giving Higuaín time to deliver.
The game wasn't over yet, but luckily enough for los blancos, Cristiano Ronaldo assisted Mesut Özil brilliantly, after Xabi Alonso found the Portuguese player in the right wing. A 0-2 margin was a very comfortable result for the team, so Bilbao started enjoying some of the possession. Madrid played more defensively on the counterattack.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 44th goal and rounded up the scoreboard with a final 0-3 goal. He also had a good chance in the last minute of the game but Iraizoz stopped it. Javi Martínez was sent off after a second handball. Marcelo, Benzema and Granero entered the game for Higuaín (who played really well), Özil and Callejón. Higuaín has made his case that he deserves a spot on the team. It's clear that Mourinho agrees, so everything will depend on Higuaín's decision. The Argentinian player also scored the decisive goal in Real Madrid's last Liga title against Osasuna. He is a true madridista and he must acknowledge that every striker will get a chance to play for this team. It's true that Benzema has played in the important matches, but there are a lot of situations to take into account during an entire season.
The game heated up towards the end and the referee didn't wait until the 93rd minute to call the game. All the players celebrated the title in the pitch alongside the whole technical staff. Real Madrid now has the 32nd Liga title in the museum after a four year drought. The players will celebrate the title with their fans in the Plaza Cibeles Thursday at 19:00 CET.
Who was the Man of the Match?
Mesut Özil (161 votes)
Cristiano Ronaldo (51 votes)
Gonzalo Higuaín (34 votes)
Other (2 votes)
248 total votes