Real Madrid wins but falls short in La Liga title chase

La Coruña (Spain): Real Madrid won its final 12 matches in the Spanish league, including a 2-0 season-ending victory on Saturday over Deportivo La Coruña at Riazor Stadium, but fell just short in its quest to catch first-place FC Barcelona. Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring in the seventh minute, firing into the back of the net after Karim Benzema failed to finish off a play set up by Gareth Bale. The Portuguese super-striker also scored the second goal in the 25th minute, heading home a ball off of midfielder Pedro Mosquera and past Croatian international goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa, EFE news agency reported. Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane, however, was following the developments at Nuevo Los Carmenes Stadium, where first-place Barcelona had grabbed a 2-0 lead at halftime on Saturday over Granada. Well aware that the team's La Liga hopes had ended, he replaced Ronaldo with Colombia's James Rodriguez for the final 45 minutes of his squad's season. Barça had a big lead in La Liga two months ago before losing three games (including one to arch-rival Real Madrid) and drawing one contest between March 20 and April 17. The Catalans, however, rebounded emphatically to finish the Spanish league season with five straight victories in which they outscored their opponents 24-0, good enough to edge the Madrid club 91 points to 90. "I'm very proud of all my players and the people involved with the team. We're all a bit disappointed, but in the end, after 38 matches, you have to recognise that Barcelona is ahead and we can't change it," Zidane said afterward. "They deserved the Liga title and we can only say 'well done.'" Now Real Madrid can focus all of its attention on the Champions League final on May 28, when the Blancos will take on crosstown rival Atletico Madrid at San Siro stadium in Milan.