First division, day 36
The top two spots in the table were decided yesterday, but the other four European positions are still wide open with two weeks to go. Villarreal took a big step towards a place in the Champions League with a 1-0 victory over Albacete, although they made hard work of it, and only took the three points thanks to a controversial Riquelme penalty after José Marí fell in the box. Visiting keeper Gaspercic made a string of excellent saves to keep out the local forwards, in particular stopping efforts from Figueroa, Forlán and Riquelme, and Forlán also hit the post in the first half. But in the end the Manchegans were beaten, and Levante's draw the day before means they will join Numancia in the second division next season.
Villarreal move two points above Sevilla, who themselves are now just a point above Betis after Serra Ferrer's side rounded off an excellent week with a 1-2 win at Atlético Madrid. Fresh from their cup semi-final success, the Andalusians went into an early lead when Oliveira headed home Assunçao's corner with a quarter of an hour gone. The Brazilian striker added a second from the penalty spot later in the first half after Braulio handled in the area, and keeper Doblas was only beaten by his own player when Melli deflected Ibagaza's cross into his own net after the restart. Atlético themselves were knocked out of the cup last Thursday, and angry fans surrounded the directors' box at the end of the game calling for action.
An injury time strike from substitute Toni Velamazán kept Espanyol in the UEFA cup spots ahead of their opponents Valencia. Antonio López's side needed to win to overtake the Catalans in the table, and Rufete gave them the lead with a shot from the edge of the area in the twentieth minute. Tamudo equalised from the penalty spot later in the first half after Palop brought down Maxi, the visiting keeper getting himself sent off into the bargain. But David García put through his own net after the restart, and the visitors appeared to be on the way to victory before Velamazán's beat Cañizares with a first time volley to make it 2-2.
Athletic Bilbao's chances of returning to Europe next season are all but over after they were defeated 4-3 by a Mallorca side who are fighting for survival. The Basques' midweek cup defeat meant they only had the league to play for, and although they fell behind to a Farinós penalty after Okubo was fouled in the area, strikes by Llorente and Gurpegui put them ahead at the interval. Víctor and Okubo turned the scoreline around though soon after the restart, and although Orbaiz made it all square with an excellent free kick, Víctor headed his second of the night to take Héctor Cúper's team to within one point of Levante.
Zaragoza and Deportivo are also both out of the running for the European places after they cancelled each other out in a 2-2 draw. The Galicians were two goals up at the break, youngster Xisco heading them into the lead after Milito blocked his first shot, and then getting a second goal after Valerón set him up. But Generelo picked up a pass from Savio to reduce the gap after the interval, and after Coloccini was sent off for a second bookable offence, Generelo levelled the scores with his second of the night.
Elsewhere Racing Santander made mathematically sure of staying up with a 2-1 win over Getafe. Ayoze opened the scoring in the twelfth minute when he cut in from the left and struck a shot which deflected off a defender and went in off the crossbar, and Arizmendi made it two before the interval with a shot under keeper Sergio Aragoneses. Vivar Dorado pulled one back in the second half after Kome set him up, but the Cantabrians held on and could have won by a bigger margin in the end.
Numancia were already relegated after last weekend's results, but they still put up a good fight, coming from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Osasuna. The visitors were on a roll after reaching the cup final for the first time ever, and they went two goals up within a quarter of an hour after Ortíz and Aloisi both took advantage of assists by Moha to score. But Miguel Pérez got one back before the break, and with the visitors down to ten men after Izquierdo insulted the referee, Miguel López headed the equaliser.
Real Sociedad and Málaga had little to play for other than pride when they met on Sunday, but they put in an entertaining display as the Andalusians ran out 1-3 winners. Edgar put them in front on the stroke of half time after picking up a pass from Michel, and then laid the ball on a plate for Baiano to make it two after the restart. Duda crossed in for Baiano to get his second of the night a few minutes later, and youngster Agirretxe got a consolation goal for the Basque side ten minutes from the end. (15.05.05)
Barcelona are the new league champions after drawing 1-1 at Levante. Frank Rijkaard's side only needed one point after Real Madrid drew earlier in the evening, and a second half goal from top scorer Samuel Eto'o was enough to give them their first league title in six years. For a while though it looked as if they would have to wait a week or so longer after Rivera picked up Congo's headed pass in the first half to beat Víctor Valdés. Eto'o crashed a shot against the bar before the break, but Jofre could have increased the lead when he hit the post early in the second half. But on the hour mark Eto'o beat Mora on the far post after Márquez headed on Xavi's corner to send the 10,000 or so travelling fans wild.
Real Madrid really had needed a win at fourth placed Sevilla to have any chance of catching the Catalans, but a headed goal two minutes from the end by Baptista meant that they could only draw 2-2. Sergio Ramos put the locals ahead in the twentieth minute with an impressive shot from outside of the area following a short free kick, but Javi Navarro headed a Roberto Carlos cross past his own keeper shortly before half time, and Zidane fired a spectacular strike in off the crossbar after the restart to give his side hope. But Baptista got on the end of Jesús Navas's cross to save a point, and Madrid's frustrations were evident when Iván Helguera got himself sent off for an injury time foul on Darío Silva. (14.05.05)