MADRID: Real Madrid claimed back the Spanish title for the first time since 2017 after a 2-0 win against Villarreal saw them dethrone arch rivals Barcelona.

Zinedine Zidane’s side beat Villarreal 2-1, thanks to a Karim Benzema brace, to win their 34th LaLiga title and win their ding-dong battle with Barcelona after a superb run of form post-lockdown.

Back-to-back champions Barcelona struggled with draws after the restart, with stalemates against Sevilla, Celtia Vigo and Atletico Madrid seeing them lose ground on their arch rivals.

Quique Setien’s Barca managed to lose to Osasuna just to add insult to injury on Thursday, while Real reeled off their 10th straight win since lockdown, in a run that has seen them power away to the title.

Victory meant Real were in an unassailable position regardless of what happened elsewhere, but in the event, they did not need it as second-placed Barcelona went down 2-1 at home to Osasuna.

Zidane and his players were left to celebrate at an empty stadium as the Frenchman delivered on his promise to target the league title – just the club’s third in the last decade – on his return in March last year.

Madrid dominated the game, but had to wait until the 29th minute for Benzema to break the deadlock when he ran on to Luka Modric’s beautifully-weighted pass and fired past keeper Sergio Asenjo.

He wrapped up the points with a twice-taken spot-kick with 15 minutes remaining after Sergio Ramos had rolled the first attempt into his path only for the strike to be ruled out for encroachment, although substitute Vicente Iborra pulled one back for the visitors late on to spark a frantic conclusion.