Madrid record 31st Spanish title

Real Madrid claimed its record 31st Spanish league title registering a come-from-behind 2-1 victory at Osasuna on Sunday night.

updated: May 10, 2008 07:47 IST
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No David Beckham, no Fabio Capello, no Roberto Carlos. No matter.

Real Madrid won its record 31st Spanish league title Sunday night thanks to the late heroics of newer additions who led the Spanish champions to a come-from-behind 2-1 victory at Osasuna.

Substitute Gonzalo Higuain volleyed in the winner in the 89th minute, two minutes after $56 million signing Arjen Robben headed in the equalizer with 10-men Madrid trailing through Francisco Punal's 83rd-minute penalty.

Coach Bernd Schuster, who replaced now-England manager Capello after the Italian ended a four-year major trophy drought last season, was given $182 million in addition to retain the league title and bring a more attractive blend of soccer to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Though the soccer hasn't followed those plans, the league title did.

"It looked like an American sports film in which you have to fight and suffer and we had a nice ending. We are champions," Coach Bernd Schuster said. "With one player less it was the moment where we were better. We deserved to win."

Higuain chested down Sergio Ramos' short pass to volley home from the right after former Chelsea winger Robben headed in a cross from Fernando Gago from the left to equalize.

Madrid was reduced to 10 in the 46th following Fabio Cannavaro's ejection.

The defending champions now have 78 points - 10 more than second-place Villarreal - and can't be caught with three games remaining, making Wednesday's match against bitter rival FC Barcelona meaningless.

An estimated 10,000 Madrid supporters had gathered at the traditional celebration point at Plaza Cibeles in the Spanish capital in anticipation of the Spanish champions' return. Madrid's players were flying straight back from Pamplona to partake.

"The plane will be rocking a lot now, it's going to be a nice party," Schuster said. "But now we want to get back to Madrid to celebrate with our fans."

Punal took the penalty after Madrid defender Gabriel Heinze handled inside the area as he leapt to challenge a cross. Punal caught goalkeeper Iker Casillas going the wrong way with his shot into the bottom left of goal.

Madrid threatened early but Javier Saviola was unable to poke Robben's short pass into the net with defender Miguel Flano appearing to handle the deflected ball.

Oasuna had several free kicks from outside Madrid's area but couldn't create a decent scoring chance.

Cannavarro was sent off barely 20 seconds into the second half after picking up a second yellow card.

Madrid needed to win the match to earn its title because Villarreal defeated Getafe 2-0 earlier. Nihat Kahveci scored both goals.

Getafe was in control at Villarreal until the 37th minute, when Giuseppe Rossi found Nihat with a pass across the goal for an easy score.

Robert Pires found the Turkey striker alone again on the right side in the 44th and he shot high to beat goalkeeper Roberto Abbondanzieri.