Madrid: Real Madrid clinched their 32nd La Liga title and their first in four years when Gonzalo Higuain, Mesut Ozil and Cristiano Ronaldo struck in a frenetic 3-0 win at 10-man Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday.
Barcelona’s 4-1 victory at home to Malaga in the earlier kickoff had kept alive their faint hope of catching their bitter rivals but Real swept Europa League finalists Bilbao aside and have a seven-point lead with only two games left.
Coach Jose Mourinho becomes the first man to win league titles in his native Portugal, England, Italy and Spain and has ended Barca’s three-year stranglehold on the title, the club where he was an assistant coach in the 1990s.
Real have only lost twice all season in the league, 1-0 at Levante and 3-1 at home to Barca, and have smashed the La Liga scoring record by amassing 115 goals with 30 conceded.
Their success has been largely down to the awesome firepower of their front line, with Ronaldo racking up 44 La Liga goals, Higuain netting 22 and Karim Benzema 20, the first time three players from the same club have passed the 20 mark.
Mourinho also gave an expensively-assembled group of players the self-belief that allowed them to get the better of Barca, a team widely considered one of the best to have played the game.
Barca’s home form let them down and they dropped 16 points on their travels to Real’s seven before a 2-1 defeat by Real in the ‘Clasico’ at the Nou Camp last month effectively ended their title bid.