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Five games that won Real Madrid La Liga

Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid’s five-year wait to win La Liga came to an end on Sunday as they edged out rivals Barcelona by beating Malaga 2-0.

Here, AFP Sports looks at five key fixtures that tilted the title race in the European champions’ favour.

Atletico Madrid 0 Real Madrid 3, November 19

Zinedine Zidane’s men travelled across the Spanish capital top of the table, but still much-criticised for their performances early in the season and missing a host of key players through injury.

Instead of wilting under the intense atmosphere at the Vicente Calderon, the depth of Madrid’s squad began to shine through as the likes of Isco, Mateo Kovacic, Lucas Vazquez and Nacho stood up to be counted.

In the end, though, the star of the show was once again Cristiano Ronaldo as the Portuguese netted a hat-trick to realistically end Atletico’s title challenge in November.

Barcelona 1 Real Madrid 1, December 3

If Ronaldo doesn’t get you and the clock is ticking into stoppage time, it is most likely Sergio Ramos will.

Barca looked to be closing to within three points at the top and ending would go onto be a record 40-game unbeaten run thanks to Luis Suarez’s opener.

However, as so often this season, Madrid got the goal they needed from a set-piece as Ramos met Luka Modric’s free-kick flush with his head to salvage a point that made all the difference come the end of the season.

Real Madrid 3 Deportivo la Coruna 2, December 10

One week later and with Ronaldo looking on from the stands having been rested ahead of the Club World Cup, Ramos did it again.

Deportivo threatened a huge shock as Joselu struck twice to cancel out Alvaro Morata’s opener.

Madrid trailed six minutes from time until Mariano Diaz came off the bench to score his only La Liga goal of the season to level.

And in the 91st minute Ramos bulleted home another header from a Toni Kroos corner.

Villarreal 2 Real Madrid 3, February 26

Madrid’s only wobble came in the months following the Club World Cup.

Sevilla ended their unbeaten run in January before defeat at Valencia piled on the pressure ahead of a tricky trip to Villarreal.

Another defeat seemed on the cards when Real went 2-0 down against the team with the best defensive record in the league at the time with just 25 minutes remaining.

Yet, Gareth Bale’s header sparked a three-goal spurt in 19 minutes as Ronaldo levelled from the penalty spot before Morata powered home the winner. 

Real Madrid 3 Las Palmas 3, March 1

Bale went from hero to villain as four days later he was stupidly sent-off for kicking out at Jonathan Viera with the scores level at 1-1 against Las Palmas.

The Canary Islanders were well on course for a famous win as Viera’s penalty and Kevin-Prince Boateng put them 3-1 up.

Again, though, even a man light Real and Ronaldo responded.

The World Player of the Year smashed home a penalty of his own four minutes from time before rising highest to power home James Rodriguez’s corner in another thrilling finale.

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