|First Division - Day 38|
Real Madrid 3 - Athletic Bilbao 1
Casillas; Michel Salgado, Hierro (Pavón 92'),Iván Helguera,
Roberto Carlos; Makelele, Guti; Figo, Raúl, Zidane (Solari 90'); Ronaldo
(Morientes 82'). 4-2-3-1.
Team changes: Madrid: No change / Athletic: Ezquerro for Arriaga.
Real Madrid are the new league champions! Del Bosque's side ran out 3-1 winners over Athletic Bilbao to make sure of their 29th league title. With Real Sociedad close on their heels, Madrid couldn't afford a slip up. Athletic themselves were going flat out, needing a victory to secure a place in the UEFA cup and also looking to dedicate to a win to their president Javier Uria, who died of cancer a couple of days ago. But the "equipo galactico" had things under control, and Ronaldo put them ahead in the ninth minute after Figo and Roberto Carlos worked a play down the left wing. And only some brave goalkeeping from Aranzubia prevented Raúl from making it two soon afterwards.
For a few minutes Athletic got back in the game, and Alkiza caught Casillas off guard with a long shot over Hierro's head to level the scores. But in injury time of the first half, Gurpegui brought down Ronaldo on the edge of the area, and Roberto Carlos struck a free kick through the defensive wall to restore the lead.
Early in the second half news came through that Real Sociedad had taken the lead in their game, which meant that Madrid had to win to ensure the title. Zidane put a good chance just wide, and Aranzubia saved another effort from Ronaldo. But on the hour mark it was Ronaldo again who turned on Zidane's through ball to score his side's third and put the game beyond Athletic's reach. The Brazilian striker went off to rousing applause to be replaced by Solari near the end. He had finally conquered the Bernabeu, and his side had made sure of another title. Celebrations went on long into the night, fireworks display included. All this, and Beckham to come!