Betis were the unlucky losers in a heart-stopping last day of league football, and the Andalusians will be joining Numancia and Recreativo in the second division after they could only draw 1-1 against Valladolid.
No less than five sides could occupy the last relegation spot at the start of the weekend, with Osasuna kicking off on sunday against Real Madrid as the current incumbents. A goal from Higuaín worsened their position, but Plasil equalised a few minutes later, and when Ersen Martin gave Recreativo the lead at Sporting Gijón, it was the Asturians who were momentarily down.
Getafe fell behind to a Toni Moral goal at Racing Santander, and they were just a point off the bottom three before Granero made it 1-1 soon afterwards. And Betis fans feared the worst when Aguirre gave Valladolid the lead on the stroke of half time, although an Oliveira strike immediately after the restart restored the status quo.
With just under an hour on the clock Barral equalised for Sporting, taking them above Osasuna. Two minutes later however Juanfran put Camacho's side 2-1 up against Madrid, and Manolo Preciado's team were back in the bottom three. But midway through the second half Luis Morán scored again for Sporting to take them 2-1 up, and that left Betis in the second division, thanks only to a negative head-to-head record against Getafe. The narrowest of margins, but a world of difference for the futures of the clubs concerned.
Two matches earlier in the evening without consequences, with Sevilla beating the already relegated Numancia 0-2 to consolidate third spot. An Armenteros strike from Chevantón's cross, and a Juan Carlos Moreno own goal from Perotti's centre, both in the last three minutes of the game, were enough to give the Andalusians the victory.
Espanyol ended their stay at the Montjuic stadium with a 3-0 win over Málaga, giving them hope for a fresh start in Cornellà next season. Tamudo was the hero of the night with a hat-trick on what could be his last appearance for his side, the team captain scoring at the start and the end of the first half and adding the third from the penalty spot after the restart. (31.05.09)
The last weekend was broken in to two halves, with the European spots being decided on Saturday and the last relegation place on Sunday. The final Champions League place was up for grabs, and favourites Atlético Madrid didn't falter as they beat Almería 3-0. Agüero and Raúl García put Abel's side two up by the break, and Diego Forlán got the third to also ensure the league "Pichichi" and the European Golden Boot for the Uruguayan striker.
Villarreal needed Atlético to lose for them to sneak ahead of their rivals, but in the end a 2-3 victory at Mallorca was in vain. Cani's opener for the visitors was cancelled out bt a strike from Aduríz, but goals either side of half time by Llorente were enough to take the three points, even though Webó got another one back in the dying minutes.
Villarreal will still play in the new Europa League, and they will be joined by neighbours Valencia after the Ches beat Athletic Bilbao 2-0. The Basque side had already qualified for the competition as losing cup finalists, and they had little to play for on the night. David Villa got both the goals, the first early on from Joaquín's pass and the second in the last minute after Pablo Hernández set him up, probably signalling his last performance before moving on to pastures new.
Valencia's win means Deportivo miss out, and they finished seventh after drawing 1-1 with triple champions Barcelona. Bodipo put the Galicians ahead on the half hour mark from Guardado's cross, but Eto'o saved a point for Guardiola's side after combining with Bojan in the last minute, his 30th goal in the league this season. (30.05.09)