Hércules will be playing their football in the first division next year after beating Real Unión 0-2 on the last day of the season. The Basque side needed a win to have any chance of staying up, and Goikoetxea missed a good chance to put them ahead on the quarter hour mark. A minute later though Portillo scored the first for the visitors after good work by Tote, and ten minutes in to the second half the ex Real Madrid and Osasuna striker crossed in for Descarga to fire the ball in to his own net for the second, the defender so upset at his own goal that he had to be substituted soon afterwards. The win takes Esteban Vigo's side up for the first time in thirteen years, another success for a coach who saw Xerez to promotion last season. Real Unión go down though after only one year back in the second division, and they will be back playing regional teams next year.
The result means that Betis stay in the second division for another season despite a 4-0 victory over already promoted Levante. Some 50,000 fans turned up to support the Andalusians, but a negative head-to-head record in a three way tie with Hércules and Levante left them in fourth place. Caffa crossed in for Juanma to head the first, and then added a second with half an hour on the clock from a direct free kick. Jonathan Pereira made it three two minutes after the restart, and Odonkor blasted home the fourth a few minutes later. Nobody was cheering though, and the fact that keeper Goitia won the second division Zamora prize was no consolation.
By contrast there was a festival atmosphere at Elche, where the locals reconciled with their disgruntled fans after a 4-1 win over the already crowned second division champions Real Sociedad. The star of the match was Jorge Molina, who scored all four for the locals to make sure of this season's Pichichi award. The striker got the first two either side of half time, and although Nsue got one back, Molina fired home two more later on to make it 26 for the season.
No less than nine sides were in the battle to avoid the three remaining relegation spots, and in the end it will be Cádiz and Murcia who join Real Unión and the already relegated Castellón in the second division B next year. Only the game between Girona and Murcia involved two of the relegation candidates, and with everybody else winning it looked as if Girona would be the ones to go down after Murcia went ahead through Capdevila. But Kiko Ratón scored an injury time penalty after Juanma was fouled to make it 1-1 and save the Catalans for another season.
Las Palmas climbed out of the drop zone on the last day after a 1-0 win over Gimnàstic. The only goal came early on from Salomón Rondón, the Venezuelan striker picking up Beranger's cross to score with a quarter of an hour gone. Rondón was only playing after a fifth yellow card was cancelled on appeal midweek. The Catalans were grateful that they saved themselves last weekend, and they ended the season just one place above the drop zone after the Canary Islanders moved above them on head-to-head goal difference.
Cádiz couldn't save themselves however despite beating Numancia 4-2. Starting a point or two behind the rest, the Andalusians had to hope that at least one of their rivals slipped up. They had to win their own game first though, and by half time they had things wrapped up, goals by Diego Tristán, López Silva and Ogbeche putting them three up. Tristán made it four from the penalty spot after López Silva was fouled just five minutes after the restart, but as news came in that all their rivals were winning the enthusiasm drained. Nandi headed one back and Mikel Alvaro converted a second penalty for the visitors after Diego Antón was brought down, and everyone went home disappointed.
Of the remaining relegation candidates, only Salamanca had any problems, and for several minutes they were down in the bottom four before they finally ran out 1-2 winners at Villarreal B. Salva Sevilla gave Jorge D'Alessandro's side the lead in the twentieth minute, but Matilla equalised soon afterwards with a shot which deflected in off Goikoetxea, and at half time the visitors were in the relegation spots. But Kike restored the lead soon after the restart, and when Hernán Pérez was sent off a few minutes later the result was in the bag.
Rayo Vallecano also had an outside chance of going down, but they didn't take long to distance themselves from the danger zone in their game against Recreativo. Within two minutes Rubén Castro headed them in to the lead from Albacar's free kick, and Piti scored the second with a shot over the head of Bernardo from more than 40 metres out. Gallardo turned Jofre's cross in to his own net before the break, and Angel made it 4-0 with twenty minutes to go on a quick counter-attack.
Albacete had what looked like a tricky game at fifth placed Cartagena, but in the end the home side hardly put up any resistance as the Manchegans ran out 0-4 victors. Two goals in a minute midway through the first half from Fernando Sales and Antonio Hidalgo gave David Vidal's team a comfortable lead, and before half time Stuani headed a third and Antonio López completed the scoreline. Cartagena's fans reacted badly to the defeat despite a brilliant first season in the second division, and with half the squad due to leave this summer they now have to rebuild their side.
Huesca also avoided the drop in the last day thanks to a 0-1 victory at Celta. Local coach Eusebio gave a run out to several of his reserves and youngsters in his last day in charge, and within ten minutes they were behind when Mikel Rico took advantage of an assist from Sorribas to beat Yoel. Papadopoulos came close to equalising a couple of times, but Camacho could have increased the lead had Yoel not kept him out later on.
Castellón were the only team who were sure of going down as we came in to the last day, and they ended a most disappointing season with a 0-1 defeat against Córdoba. The visitors were already safe, and coach Lucas Alcaraz used the occasion to give a run out to some of his youngsters. but even so they took the three points thanks to a strike by Asen after Pepe Díaz set him up with a quarter of an hour to go. (19.06.10)