Any faint hope that Real Madrid fans of retaining the La Liga title ended today as they lost 3-2 at Malaga. The defeat, combined with Barcelona’s early 3-1 win at Valladolid, means that Jose Mourinho’s side will enter the Christmas break an unbelievable 16 points behind Barca.
For some strange reason, Mourinho dropped/rested Iker Casillas from his starting line-up, but it did not seen to matter in the first half as they totally dominated possession. But they did not turn that possession into goals and Malaga made them pay just three minutes into the second half when Isco put Malaga ahead.
Karim Benzema drew Madrid level midway through the second half but Santa Cruz, who had been on the pitch less than 10 minutes, stunned the visitors by putting Malaga 3-1 ahead with a double strike in the 73rd and 76th minutes.
Benzema pulled another goal back with eight minutes remaining Madrid could not find an equaliser as they slumped to a fourth league defeat of the season, twice as many as they suffered in winning the title last season.
Eearlier Lionel Messi ended his remarkable year with his 91st and final goal of 2012 in Barcelona’s 3-1 win at Valladolid.
Messi scored in the 59th minute by dribbling between a defender’s legs before making it 2-0 after Xavi Hernandez had opened the scoring two minutes before halftime.
Barcelona’s players wore T-shirts before the game with messages of support for manager Tito Vilanova, who had throat surgery to remove a second tumor in two years on Thursday.
Adrian Lopez grabbed the only goal 13 minutes from time with a brilliant half-volley from outside the area that flew past Javi Varas into the top corner.