A night of high drama and excitement on Saturday evening, but in the end virtually all issues will be settled in a nerve racking last weekend. Leaders Barcelona stay a point ahead of Real Madrid after a 2-3 victory at Sevilla, and a win at home against Valladolid next week will see them retain the league title. Pep Guardiola's side appeared to have everything wrapped up with three goals in the first hour by Messi, Bojan and Pedro, especially as the locals were playing with ten men after Konko was sent off for a second bookable offence. But two in three minutes by Kanouté and Luis Fabiano midway through the second half meant the result was doubt until the final whistle.
Real Madrid now have to win at Málaga and hope for a slip by Barça if they are to overtake their rivals, despite a record breaking 31st victory of the season against Athletic Bilbao. Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring midway through the first half with a controversial penalty after Higuaín's shot hit Amorebieta on the arm from point blank range, referee Muñiz Fernández further upsetting the visitors by sending off the defender. But Yeste equalised after an impressive run shortly before half time, and it was not until news came in of Sevilla's two goals that Madrid finally woke up, Higuaín, Ramos, Benzema and Marcelona scoring four in the last quarter of an hour for a 5-1 scoreline.
Sevilla stay in fourth place despite their defeat though after Mallorca lost 1-0 at Deportivo. Riki scored the only goal of the game after Valerón set him up after the break to end a run of eleven matches without a win. If the Islanders can't get above Sevilla they are at least assured of fifth place, and the other Europa League spot will be between Getafe and Villarreal after both won on Saturday. Getafe beat Málaga 2-1 to stay sixth, goals from Soldado and Pedro León giving them an unassailable lead before Fernando's injury time consolation for the visitors. And Villarreal won 2-0 against local rivals Valencia despite ending with nine men, early goals from Rossi and Llorente enough to give them the three points.
Nothing has been decided regarding the three relegation spots either, with Valladolid, Racing, Tenerife and Málaga all level on 36 points, and Xerez now just three points behind them after a thrilling 3-2 win over Zaragoza. The Andalusians started the day with a less than 1% chance of survival, but they could still stay up if they can beat Osasuna next weekend. Valladolid are out of the bottom three on a four-way head-to-head basis after coming from behind to beat fellow strugglers Racing Santander 2-1, and Tenerife picked up a vital point in a 2-2 draw with Almería, Nino saving the day with an injury time equaliser.
Zaragoza and Almería are now mathematically safe though, as are Espanyol and Sporting Gijón after today's games. Espanyol won 2-1 against Osasuna, second half strikes by Forlín and Osvaldo overturning Vadócz's early goal. And Sporting Gijón picked up the point they needed in a 1-1 draw with Atlético Madrid, Miguel De las Cuevas opening the scoring for the Andalusians against his old club before Ibrahima made it all square later on. Atlético's battles are elsewhere though, and with two cup finals coming up in the next ten days Quique left most of his first choice players at home. (08.05.10)