First division - day 38
A thrilling end to the season, with the remaining European and relegation spots being decided at the matches at Mallorca, Santander and Huelva. A heavy rainstorm in Mallorca meant that the synchronized kick-offs of all three were delayed by an hour, but once things got started an early goal by Güiza was the beginning of the end for Zaragoza. Llorente scored for Valladolid in Huelva, and when Oliveira equalised for the Maños it was Recreativo who were in the drop zone. But ten minutes later Webó restored the lead for Mallorca, and when Chori Castro got a third at the end it was all over, even though Oliveira did give the fans a brief hope with his second of the night in injury time. By then Javi Guerrero had equalised for Recre, and Osasuna (who were losing in Santander) were on tenterhooks until the end of the match in the San Moix. A Zaragoza side who had set their sights on the Champions League were back in the second division.
Mallorca were denied the last UEFA Cup spot though by a late strike from Racing Santander's Iván Bolado, giving the Cantabrians a 1-0 win over Osasuna and a place in Europe for the first time in their history. Later in the evening Deportivo qualified for the Intertoto Cup despite losing 0-2 to Villarreal, Mati Fernández and Guille Franco getting the goals to give the visitors a points haul which would have won them the title in four of the eleven previous seasons. Athletic Bilbao did get past them for a few minutes after Aduríz put them ahead from the penalty spot against Sevilla, but two from Kanouté and one each from Keita and Navas ensured that Depor stayed ahead of Caparrós's side in the table.
Nothing to play for but pride in the other four games, although Real Madrid did have a celebration to look forward to as they received the league champions trophy after playing Levante. The match almost didn't take place, the visiting players calling off their strike not long before kick off, but having refused to train all week they were easy pickings for their hosts. Two each for Van Nistelrooy and Sergio Ramos and another for Sneijder wrapped things up, but Geijo did get a couple for the visitors in between.
It was far and away the highest scoring weekend of the season though, with 40 goals in the ten matches. Seitaridis put through his own net and David Villa got two as Valencia beat Atlético Madrid 3-1, with Agüero getting one back for Javier Aguirre's side. Espanyol's poor second half of the season finally came to an end as they were beaten 1-3 by Almería, Luis García's penalty coming too late to prevent goals by Felipe Melo, Crusat and Paunovic taking the newcomers up to a respectable eighth spot. And Getafe and Betis drew 1-1, with goals by Manu del Moral and Nano to give Michael Laudrup a fitting send off before he moves on to his new challenge, wherever that might be. We will know that and more when battle recommences at the end of August! (18.05.08)
Murcia and Barcelona shared eight goals in the curtain raiser for Spain's "Super Sunday". Ochoa headed a De Lucas corner past Pinto to open the scoring, but Henry set up Eto'o and then scored himself to overturn the scoreline. Giovani added three more either side of half time, the first goals he has scored in the league all season, but Murcia pegged two back late on, Iván Alonso converting a penalty and Abel curling home a free kick to make it 3-5 in the end. An entertaining finish to Frank Rijkaard's reign at the Nou Camp, and something for the home fans to remember as they return to the drudgery of the second division next season. (17.05.08)