First division - day 34
Real Madrid will have to wait another week at least before being crowned champions despite a 3-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao, Villarreal's win earlier in the evening cutting short their celebrations. Saviola took advantage of a rare start to open the scoring with just under a quarter of an hour gone, but Casillas had to save a Garmendia penalty to keep his side ahead at the break. Substitutes Robben and Higuaín added two more after the restart though to take their side closer to a second league title in a row.
With four games to go, Villarreal stay ten points behind the leaders after they beat Betis 0-1 in the Ruiz de Lopera stadium. Marcos Senna got the only goal of the match in the fifteenth minute, catching out Casto with a shot from just over the halfway line. Pellegrini's side are now four points clear of Barcelona in the battle for second spot, which gives direct access to the league stage of next season's Champions League.
Nobody seems to want the fourth Champions League spot though, and for the second week in a row none of the three contenders were able to win. Atlético Madrid did manage a 1-1 draw at neighbours Getafe however, and that was enough to keep them two points clear of the challengers. Albín volleyed home a Cortés cross to give Michael Laudrup's side an early lead, but Agüero held off Belenguer to equalise before the break, and Leo Franco saved a De la Red penalty after the restart to ensure a point.
Racing Santander stay in fifth spot despite a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Mallorca. All the goals came after the break, Nunes heading the first and Trejo taking advantage of a poor back pass to make it two late on. Duscher got one back from the penalty spot after Tchité was fouled in the area, but Güiza put the game out of reach with his 22nd of the season, taking him within one of Luis Fabiano in the race for this season's Pichichi.
One issue was resolved this weekend, Recreativo's 2-0 win over Levante meaning that the Valencia based side will be playing in the second division next season. The visiting players called off a threatened strike a day or so before the kick off after the club gave them guarantees about their back pay, but they were unable to continue their recent good run. Ersen Martin was the man who did the damage, getting on the end of Sinama-Pongolle's cross to open the scoring, and setting up Camuñas for the second later in the first half.
Recre climb out of the bottom three to the detriment of Zaragoza, who find themselves back in the relegation zone despite a 1-1 at Espanyol. Riera gave the Catalans the lead with a centre-come-shot which caught César off his line, their first goal in over 500 minutes of play. But the visitors were awarded a late penalty when Rufete blocked Zapater's free kick with his arm, and Oliveira stepped up to convert the kick.
The battle to avoid the last relegation spot looks like going down to the wire though, with six teams within four points of each other. Valencia took a step towards safety though with a 3-0 win over fellow strugglers Osasuna, thanks in part to a controversial decision by referee Ontanaya López to send off keeper Ricardo and award a penalty to the locals in the twentieth minute. Villa converted the kick and then set up two more in the second half for Mata and Joaquín to give a best possible start to caretaker boss Voro, who took over after Koeman was fired midweek.
Valladolid are also four points above the drop zone after a last minute 1-0 win over Almería. Negredo headed a Víctor corner from under the bar, and Víctor also had a penalty saved by Diego Alves later in the first half, but with the game coming to an end Jonathan Sesma fired a shot through a crowded goalmouth to win the match. (27.04.08)
Any chance Barcelona had of catching Real Madrid disappeared after Frank Rijkaard's side lost 2-0 at Deportivo on Saturday evening. With the Champions League semi-final at old Trafford coming up in three days, the coach made changes up to and including his goalkeeper. But they were unable to make any impression against a side who have the best record in the second half of the season, and they could have been behind at the break after Xisco hit the bar and two or three more chances were wasted. Juan Rodríguez turned in Lafita's cross though to open the scoring early in the second half, and Pablo Amo headed the second from Wilhelmsson's free kick later on.
Later in the evening Murcia and Sevilla drew 0-0, a result which didn't help either side to achieve their objectives for the end of the season. The visitors needed the three points to close up on the fourth Champions League spot, but the only real chances they had were a Keita header just wide of the post before the break, and a shot against the post by Luis Fabiano after the restart. The closest Murcia came to scoring were a couple of free kicks from Iván Alonso and Dani Aquino late on, but in the end they had to make do with a point which leaves them still seven points adrift of safety. (26.04.08)