First division day 36

Real Madrid's victory seemed to knock the stuffing out of the four teams fighting for the three remaining Champions League spots. Only Mallorca kept up the pressure, beating Rayo Vallecano 4-0, and they move up to third place, virtually assuring themselves a place in the money spinning competition. Samuel Eto'o was the star of the match, scoring twice in the first half and making another in between for Finidi, and he also had a hand in the last, scored by substitute Alberto Riera at the end. Mallorca move two points ahead of Valencia, who could only draw 1-1 at struggling Racing Santander. Their defeat in the Champions League final midweek took it's toll, and only a last minute equaliser from Mendieta saved them a point after Racing had taken the lead early in the second half through Mazzoni.

The two surprise results of the day however were the defeats of Deportivo and Barcelona at home to Valladolid and Oviedo. Deportivo's match against Valladolid had to be home banker, with the Gallicians unbeaten at the Riazor stadium in the league for over a year and their opponents yet to win away this season. However goals from Kaviedes and Fernando Sales either side of half time gave the visitors a two goal lead, and although Makaay pulled one back near the end they could do no more. Depor are now only two points ahead of Mallorca. Barcelona have little chance now of qualifying for the Champions League after losing 0-1 to Oviedo. The Asturians recorded only their second win of the season away from home thanks to a goal in the second half from Jaime. Barça's Luis Enrique was sent off in the second half for kicking Onopko off the ball.

The victories of Valladolid and Oviedo moves them both away from the relegation zone and opens up a four point gap between the bottom three, Osasuna, Racing and Numancia, who now look fairly certain to go down. All three are tied on 36 points after bottom club Numancia beat Espanyol 2-1. The Catalans took the lead in the first half through Tamudo, but a dubious penalty near half time converted by Nagore levelled the scores before Rosu scrambled the winner in the second half. They have now picked up seven points in three games since Celestino Vallejo took over as caretaker manager. Osasuna threw away their last real chance of survival when they lost 2-0 at Villarreal. Palermo set up the first goal for Escoda in the first half, and roles were reversed in the second when Palermo follwed up after Escoda's shot was saved. Villarreal stay a point behind sixth placed Celta, and have a chance to overtake them in the next game when they meet in Vigo.

If they draw though Málaga could go above them both. They kept their hopes of snatching the last UEFA spot alive with a 1-3 victory at Athletic Bilbao, and are still only a point behind Villarreal. With Darío Silva and Dely Valdés out, all their goals came from midfielders, with Musampa opening the scoring and substitutes Sandro and Agostinho getting two late goals after Urzaiz had equalised with a quarter of an hour to go. Bilbao's manager Txetxu Rojo has already announced he will be leaving at the end of the season, and the new manager depends on who wins the presidential elections next week. Rojo could be going back to Zaragoza, who inched closer to safety with a 1-1 draw against Real Sociedad. Both goals came in the first half, with Sundgren putting the home side in front and De Paula making it all square a few minutes later. They both join a group of five teams separated by one point just above the drop zone. (27.05.01)

Real Madrid took their 28th league title of their long history with a crushing 5-0 victory over Alavés. The result was never in doubt after Madrid scored twice in a two minute period in the middle of the first half, with Guti setting up Raúl and Raúl returning the favour for Guti immediately afterwards. The second half though belonged to Figo, who set up three more headed goals with his crosses in from the right wing. The first came from a corner, with Hierro netting the 100th league goal of his career five minutes after the restart, and Helguera added the fourth a few minutes later. Raúl got his second near the end to move ahead of Javi Moreno in the Pichichi goalscorers chart and round off a perfect night.

Celta beat Las Palmas 0-1 to consolidate their sixth position in the league. Gustavo López missed a penalty early in the first half after Edu was brought down by Jarni, but Berizzo beat substitute keeper Cicovic in the second half with a header which Alvaro deflected into his own net to seal the result. Samways and Nacho González were replaced at half time by Sergio Kresic after they apparently argued in the changing room. (26.05.01)

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