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Football | Spain

Real Madrid fans © Action Images

Real fans erupt in league victory joy



Real Madrid fans erupted in night-time celebrations and Madrid-based sporting newspapers gloated Thursday after the club raced to their first league title in four years.

Real's 3-0 away win over Athletic Bilbao sealed the league, putting them seven points clear of last year's winners and arch rivals Barcelona with just two games to go and delivering the team's 32nd league crown.

Within minutes of victory about 2 000 fans poured into central Madrid to party around the stone fountain of Cibeles, the goddess of nature depicted on a chariot pulled by a pair of lions.

Fans danced in drunken revelry, waving Real Madrid scarves and flags and chanting. Others drove to the city centre beeping their horns and waving flags out of car windows.

City authorities had protected the fountain with scaffolding since Sunday in anticipation of a Madrid league title in case Barcelona lost.

But the Catalans won 7-0 away over Rayo Vallecano Sunday and 4-1 over Malaga on Wednesday evening, forcing Madrid to wait a little longer before snatching the title shortly before midnight.

Real Madrid players will join full-blown celebrations at Cibeles on Thursday evening.

"The Best!" declared the front page of the biggest selling daily Marca above a photograph of Real coach Jose Mourinho being thrown into the air by joyful players celebrating in Bilbao.

Fellow Madrid-based daily AS splashed a similar photo of Mourinho aloft above the headline: "Champions, Champions!".

"With inspiration or without it, with the wind or against it, with a lot of play or a little, they have sealed the games and most of them with overwhelming score boards," said AS columnist Juanma Trueba.

"Achieving such a thing is like bottling wine without having to tread the grapes."

Barcelona-based papers were less enthusiastic about Real Madrid's league success.

"King of the Goal!," read Page One in Barcelona's sporting daily Sport, referring to Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi's hat-trick against Malaga and leaving Madrid's win as a footnote at the bottom of the page.

"Torpedo!" cried the front page of Barcelona-based Mundo Deportivo, also referring to Messi, who now has more league goals this season than Real's Cristiano Ronaldo, and a total tally of 68, one better than that mustered by Gerhard Mueller while playing for Bayern Munich in the 1972-73 season.

The paper conceded a narrow blue banner to the other news of the day: "Madrid win the league."

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