First division, week 38
A thrilling last day of the season, with the remaining European and relegation places not decided until the closing minutes. All eyes were on the matches at the Madrigal and San Moix stadiums, where Villarreal and Betis both made it in to the two remaining Champions League spots and Mallorca pipped Levante for survival. Espanyol and Sevilla take the two UEFA cup spots, and Betis's success means that Osasuna will also be playing in the competition whatever the outcome of the cup final in a fortnight's time. Valencia's victory over Osasuna was not enough to take them in to the top six and they will have to make do with a place in the Intertoto cup, where they will be joined by Deportivo, who just got the edge of Athletic Bilbao on head-to-head goal average.
Villarreal made sure of their place in the Champions League with a 4-1 win over Levante, a result which condemns the Valencia based side to the second division. It was not so clear at the start though as the visitors took the lead through Reggi midway through the first half, at which time they were out of the bottom three. Goals by Josico and Forlán just before the break turned the scoreline around, but when news came through that Mallorca were losing a draw would have kept José Luis Oltra's side up. However with a couple of minutes to go the Islanders equalised in San Moix, and seconds later Forlán burst through to score his second of the night, taking him past Eto'o as Spain's top goalscorer. Figueroa added a fourth in injury time, but by then it was all over.
Their were scenes of celebration from both camps in Mallorca after the home side drew 1-1 with Betis, although for a while the local fans' nerves were on edge when relegation rivals Levante got their goal. Joy at half time about Villarreal's comeback soon turned to worry when Marcos Assunçao curled a trademark free kick past Moyà, but shortly after Farinós rattled the crossbar with a long shot, Pereyra headed home the equaliser. Héctor Cúper's side were staying up, and Mallorca born Serra Ferrer had also taken his side into the Champions League for the first time ever.
There was frustration and anger at Sevilla though, where Betis's city rivals missed out on the chance of overtaking their old enemies after a 0-2 defeat at the hands of Málaga. Although the home side did most of the attacking they were unable to find a way through, and they fell behind when Duda fired a free kick past Notario with twelve minutes to go. Mallorca's late strike meant that a victory would take Caparrós's side into the top four, but Baiano scored a second goal in injury time to scupper their chances.
Espanyol join Sevilla in the UEFA cup after a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao took them up to fifth in the table. Velamazán gave the Catalans the lead after Maxi set him up late in the first half, and Lopo headed home De la Peña's corner just a couple of minutes in to the second half. Jarque was sent off soon afterwards for a second bookable offence, but his side held on to ensure a comfortable victory.
Valencia's only hope of a return to Europe was either for Espanyol to lose or Betis to finish down in fifth or sixth place and then win the cup. However neither happened, and despite a 1-0 win over the other cup finalists Osasuna they had to make do with seventh spot and a place in the Intertoto cup. The only goal of the game came near the end when Aimar headed past Sanzol at the second attempt.
Curiously the other side who will be playing in the Intertoto cup this summer is Deportivo La Coruña, who like Valencia were in the Champions League last season. The Galicians picked up the point they needed to edge past Athletic Bilbao in a 1-1 draw at Numancia, local defender Juanpa putting though his own net following a corner after Tevenet had given the hosts an early lead from the penalty spot.
Disappointment at the Vicente Calderón stadium, where Atlético Madrid were held to a 2-2 draw by city rivals Getafe. As things went in the other games, a win would have given them the second Intertoto spot, but in fact they fell behind twice, and only two strikes by Richard Nuñez saved face. A Cubillo penalty and a second goal by Craioveanu had looked as if the visitors were on for a victory which would have taken Quique Flores's side past their opponents in the table.
With nothing to play for, the game between Racing Santander and Albacete was allowed to kick off earlier in the evening. Both managers used the occasion to give a run out to youngsters and players who had not featured much during the season, and the home side ran out 1-0 winners thanks to a first half headed goal from Aganzo. The defeat leaves Albacete at the bottom of the table. (29.05.05)
League champions Barcelona put an end to their season with a fairly meaningless 0-0 draw at Real Sociedad. The only issue at stake was whether Samuel Eto'o would get the goal he needed to catch Arsenal's Thierry Henry in the race for the European golden boot, but despite going close a number of times he was unable to beat Riesgo in the local goal. The Basque side also had their chances though, in particular an effort from Uranga which came back off the crossbar early on and a free kick from Barkero which Jorquera did well to save. But the loudest applause of the night was for Karpin, who together with Alkiza will be retiring at the end of the season.
The match between Zaragoza and Real Madrid was also brought forward to Saturday evening, with Vanderlei Luxemburgo's side running out 1-3 winners. Michael Owen opened the scoring midway through the first half when Luis García failed to hold on to a long shot from Zidane, but Oscar González levelled the scores shortly before the break after Milito and Villa combined to set him up. Roberto Carlos picked up a pass from Raúl to restore the lead after the restart though, and Ronaldo finished things off in injury time, again after a mistake by the keeper left him with an open goal. (28.05.05)