First division - day 35
Real Madrid are league champions! Bernd Schuster's side put in a valiant performance to beat Osasuna 1-2 and take the title for the second season running. Villarreal's victory earlier in the evening meant they needed to win to be sure of outdistancing their closest rivals. But things looked bad when Cannavaro was sent off early in the second half for a second bookable offence, and then Puñal converted a penalty after Heinze handled in the area with seven minutes to go. Robben headed the equaliser though from Higuaín's free kick just a couple of minutes later, and two minutes after that Higuaín controlled Sergio Ramos's pass and blasted a shot past Ricardo to win the match.
Villarreal gave it their best shot though, beating Getafe 2-0 earlier in the day to keep up the pressure on Madrid. Michael Laudrup's side needed points to avoid the danger zone, and they had most of the early play. But Nihat struck twice before half time, the first after Rossi set him up and the second after connecting with a pass from Pires, to mathematically make sure of a Champions League spot for next season.
Pellegrini's side stay four points ahead of Barcelona, who bounced back from their midweek Champions League defeat to thrash Valencia 6-0. There were protests from the fans before the match, but within a quarter of an hour the Catalans were three up, Messi winning and converting a penalty and Xavi and Henry adding two more. Henry got his second of the night after the restart, and substitute Bojan chipped in with a brace as well to complete the rout.
Racing Santander kept up their push for a place in the top four, coming from two down to beat Murcia 3-2. The visitors needed a win to have any chance of survival, and goals Dani Aquino and Iván Alonso in the first half hour seemed to set them on their way. De Coz put through his own net before the break though, and Jorge López and Munitis scored two more soon after the restart to send their opponents down to the second division.
The fourth Champions League place is a three horse race though, Sevilla also staying within three points of Atlético after a 2-0 win over Valladolid. Renato got both the goals before the break, opening the scoring with a header from Capel's cross and getting the second after Maresca put him through. The defeat leaves Valladolid level with Valencia and Getafe, a point above Zaragoza and two above Recreativo and Osasuna, who currently occupy the last relegation spot.
It looks as if it will be one of those six who join Levante and Murcia at the end of the season, although Betis are not completely safe after drawing 1-1 against regional rivals Almería. Odonkor gave the visitors the lead with an individualist goal a couple of minutes before the break, but Pulido equalised just two minutes in to the second half after the defence failed to clear a Juanma Ortíz cross.
Almería are a very respectable ninth, level with Deportivo and a point behind Mallorca, who still have an outside chance of a UEFA Cup spot after a 1-2 victory at Athletic Bilbao. Dani Güiza kept up his great recent form scoring both goals to overtake Sevilla's Luis Fabiano in the Pichichi chart, the first in only the second minute, and the second later on after Llorente had equalised for the locals.
Seventh spot does give a back door into Europe via the Intertoto Cup though, and Espanyol still have a chance of making it despite a 1-1 draw against bottom club Levante. A card-happy referee sent off Berson and Torrejón before Juanma ran through to open the scoring with fifteen minutes to go, but Luis García saved a point with a last minute penalty after Alvaro was also red-carded for bringing down the forward. (04.05.08)
Atlético Madrid recorded a comfortable 3-0 win over Recreativo in the first match of the weekend to consolidate fourth spot in the table. Nacho Camacho became the second youngster player to score for the Colchoneros when he headed Pernía's corner past Sorrentino early on, and Agüero connected with Maxi's cross to make it two early in the second half. And Camacho got his second of the night late on to take Javier Aguirre's side to within three points of third placed Barcelona.
Later in the evening Zaragoza moved out of the relegation zone with a last second 1-0 victory over Deportivo. The locals totally dominated the game, creating seventeen scoring chances to Depor's one. Oliveira headed against the post before the break and Sergio García came up against Aouate time and time again, but with the game in the last minute of injury time a draw seemed to be on the cards until Ayala scrambled the ball over the line to win the match. (03.05.08)