First division, week 37
With one match to go to the end of the season, five teams are still battling it out for the two remaining Champions League and two UEFA cup spots. Villarreal have the edge over the rest though after they drew 3-3 against a Barcelona side who have already won the league title, and who were presented with the champions trophy prior to kick off. Pellegrini's side got off to a great start, Diego Forlán putting them ahead early on, and after Eto'o fired a penalty kick against the bar, Forlán converted another penalty to put his side two up. Ronaldinho headed one back though and Giuly scored two more either side of half time to turn the scoreline in favour of the Catalans. But Forlán completed his hat-trick a few minutes later to consolidate third spot and move to within one goal of Eto'o in the Pichichi chart.
Sevilla drop out of the Champions League spots after they were held to a 0-0 draw by Getafe, the point not enough to take them back over city rivals Betis, who beat Zaragoza the day before. The Andalusians were fortunate though to come away with anything after the referee ruled out two goals by the locals for borderline offsides, the first when Belenguer finished off after Riki's header hit the bar, and the second when Kome beat Notario after the keeper pushed out a shot from Nano. Albiol also hit the post as the home side celebrated their continuity in the top flight.
Espanyol were also held to a 1-1 draw at Osasuna, and their only hope now of making it to the Champions League spots is that they can beat Athletic Bilbao in their last match and that Betis and Sevilla both lose. Both goals came in the first half in unusual circumstances, the visitors opening the scoring when Maxi charged down a Morales clearance in the third minute, the ball flying up over the head of Elía, and the Navarrans equalising twenty minutes later when Lopo turned Delporte's cross past his own keeper. Lotina's side were unlucky not to take the three points though after referee Iturralde González ruled out a Velamazán strike for a non-existent offside after the break.
A 0-0 draw as well in the city derby between Levante and Valencia, a result which keeps Antonio López's side in seventh spot, three below Espanyol, and leaves the hosts down in the relegation zone. The closest anyone came to scoring was an incredible "rabona" from Aimar in the first half which bounced back off the post along the goal-line, but Palop (who was let off a one match ban to play) had to be at his best to keep out an Alexis header before the interval and efforts from Juanma and Jofre in the second half. If Valencia don't catch Espanyol, they could still make it in to the UEFA cup if Betis win the Spanish cup and finish fifth or sixth in the league.
Mallorca climbed out of the relegation spots for the first time in eight months after beating Deportivo 0-3. The star of the match was undoubtedly Yoshito Okubo, who had a hand in all the goals on a night when Mauro Silva and Fran took their last bow from the Riazor stadium. The Japanese striker left Romero for dead before setting up Farinós for the opener ten minutes in to the first half, and it was his cross which Víctor headed on for Arango to score before the interval. Okubo added a third himself with a shot through the legs of keeper Munúa after picking up a pass from Arango to keep up his side's six match unbeaten run.
A disappointing last home match of the season for Athletic Bilbao, who were beaten 0-2 by the already relegated Numancia. One of their ex players Carlos Merino started things off, picking up a pass from Tevenet to beat Aranzubia in the eighth minute, and Tevenet himself got the second from the penalty spot in the last minute after Pignol was sandwiched between Del Horno and Gurpegui. It was probably the last match in the San Mamés stadium for Del Horno and Ezquerro, who will probably be on their way to Chelsea and Barcelona this summer, and also for coach Ernesto Valverde, who has announced that he will not be staying on next season.
Numancia's modest objective was to catch Albacete in the table, and they drew level with them on points after the Manchegans could only draw 2-2 against Real Sociedad. Pacheco gave Monteagudo's side the lead early on when his long free kick took a freak bounce past Riesgo, and added a second later in the first half after picking up a return pass from Francisco. De Paula headed one back though eight minutes from the end, and Uranga scrambled an equaliser in injury time.
Málaga and Racing Santander were also safe before the start of their match, and there was a festival atmosphere in the Rosaleda stadium as the Andalusians ran out 2-0 winners. Edgar got the first goal in the eighteenth minute after picking up a lofted pass from Miguel Angel to beat debutant keeper Toño, and substitute Amoroso added a second in the last minute after a long gallop out of his own half. (22.05.05)
Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid played out a dull local derby on Saturday night. With nothing much to play for, the game was lacking intensity, and the two keepers had little work throughout the evening. Nuñez couldn't find the target early on, and Leo Franco kept out Ronaldo, who was hoping to add to his tally to keep up his challenge for the Pichichi title. And it was more of the same after the restart, Fernando Torres the only touch of class for the visitors and Michael Owen wasting a couple of chances near the end. The point does at least keep Atlético in with a chance of one of the two Intertoto spots, but nothing else.
Betis made sure of their place in Europe though with a 3-2 win over Zaragoza which takes them up to fourth in the table. Serra Ferrer's side were behind at half time after Savio cracked a free kick past Prats, but Juanito headed the equaliser from Joaquín's cross early in the second half and Oliveira gave them the lead a few minutes later when he turned Varela's pass wide of the keeper. Fernando made it three with eight minutes to go, and a headed goal from Oscar González in injury time came too late to alter the result. The victory takes the home side past city neighbours Sevilla pending their match on Sunday. (21.05.05)