Spanish giants Real Madrid have lifted their first Primera Division title since the 2007/2008 season after registering a convincing 3-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao at the San Mames. Goals from Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain, German attacking midfielder Mesut Ozil and star striker Cristiano Ronaldo saw Madrid end fierce rival Barcelona's three-season winning streak come to a halt and the capital club win their 32nd Spanish La Liga title, with two games still to go.
The Catalan club are set to finish second, with 87 points so far (seven behind Madrid), despite beating Malaga 4-1 earlier in the evening, on the back of yet another hat-trick from Argentine star Lionel Messi. Meanwhile, Madrid manager Jose Mourinho celebrated a personal milestone with this victory - he has now won the domestic league in four different countries - Portugal (FC Porto), England (Chelsea), Italy (Inter Milan) and now Spain.
The champions-elect seemed to get off to a good start, after being awarded a penalty on 12 minutes; Javi Martinez (who received a yellow card for the incident) hand-balled inside the area. Unfortunately, Ronaldo, probably with memories of the missed penalty during Madrid's defeat to Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of the Champions League, fluffed his lines again.
Fortunately though, Madrid did not have to wait too long to open the scoring. A few minutes after the miss, Argentine Gonzalo Higuain, preferred over French forward Karim Benzema, was fed by Ozil. The striker, who has been linked with moves to Chelsea and Juventus because of a lack of first team football, scored with a powerful shot from the edge of the box. On 20 minutes, Ozil got on the score sheets, to all but confirm the league title for his club, latching on to an excellent low cross from Ronaldo.
Bilbao did try to respond and were unlucky when a Markel Susaeta effort hit the post. At the other end, though, Ozil was in sublime form and almost scored his second of the evening with a long-range effort that brushed the top of the crossbar on its way over.
Madrid's third goal was only a matter of time and it was perhaps fitting that the seal on their title triumph was delivered by the man largely responsible for their goal scoring feats. Ronaldo struck his 44th goal of the league campaign with a superb header from an equally excellent corner by Ozil.
The visitors were in no mood to back off after a third though. Youth product Jose Maria Callejon saw an excellent shot blocked by goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz, who had a very busy night. The hosts' were delivered another blow when Martinez was sent off following a second yellow card for another hand-ball.
The final action of the evening, on the pitch, nearly saw Ronaldo claim his second of the game, after he broke free on the counter and muscled his way past the last defender. However, he could only manage a weak effort that was easily saved by Iraizoz.
The final whistle marked the beginning of celebrations for Real Madrid, who will party with their fans, in traditional style, at the Cibeles square in the capital city.
Check out these photographs of the match and the celebrations afterwards