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News Archive

First division match round-up, day 36

Barcelona are league champions for the third season in a row after drawing 1-1 at Levante on Wednesday night! Guardiola wanted to tie up the title as quickly as possible to give his players time to rest before the Champions League final, and he put out a strong line up against the Valencians. But the locals needed a point or so themselves to stay up, and Xisco Nadal and Xavi Torres both went close before Keita headed in Xavi's long ball to open the scoring on the half hour mark. With five minutes to go to the break Caicedo equalised after a mix up between Piqué and Valdés allowed him to turn the ball in to an empty net, and although a brilliant Messi hit the post and fired another effort just wide after great runs in the second half, in the end everybody decided that a point would do nicely. The celebrations after the final whistle were just as big for both sides.

While the two sides were achieving their objectives in the City of Valencia stadium, Valencia themselves made sure of third spot after a 2-2 draw in Barcelona against Espanyol. A missed clearance by Raúl Rodríguez allowed Soldado to run through and score in the ninth minute, and although Osvaldo equalised a few minutes later with an individualist strike, Mata restored the lead from Bruno's cross soon afterwards. Osvaldo and Luis García went close for the home team either side of half time, and Galán saved a point for the Catalans when he beat César after the keeper could only push out Luis García's shot with a quarter of an hour to go. The point coupled with the day's other results means that Espanyol can make it in to the Europa League if they can win their last two matches.

Villarreal will join Barça, Madrid and Valencia in the Champions League next season, although they will have to play a tricky qualifying round first after they were held to a 0-0 draw by the already relegated Almería. Nilmar missed a couple of chances early on, and local keeper Esteban had to save from Borja Valero and Nilmar later in the first half. Luna fired a shot over and Carlos García headed against the bar either side of half time, and in the end Diego López had to be on his toes to keep out Ulloa and Corona later on. A sad atmosphere in a nearly empty Mediterraneo stadium though, and everybody is waiting for the season to end as quickly as possible.

The three Europa League spots are still to be played for though after Sevilla were beaten 3-2 by a desperate Osasuna. Results the day before left the Pamplona based side just two points above the drop zone, and things looked grim after Negredo struck twice in a two minute period midway through the first half, the first a header from Fazio's free kick, and the second another header after Perotti's cross came back off the far post. Kike Sola got one back though from a Camuñas cross just after the restart, and in the last three minutes Sola and Lekic picked up Camuñas assists to turn the scoreline around. Sevilla's frustrations were evident when Medel was sent off for a second booking, and the Andalusians still have some work to do if they are to return to Europe.

Hércules will be going down with Almería after they could only draw 2-2 with Mallorca. The Alicante based side were already facing a difficult battle, especially after Tuesday's results left them seven points away from safety, but they got off to the best possible start when Sendoa beat Lux twice in the first half, both times from passes by Kiko Femenía. With a quarter of an hour to go though Víctor Casadesús pulled one back after Pereira set him up, and five minutes later Webó ran on to a long ball from midfield to lob Velthuizen and level the scores. It was an important point for Michael Laudrup's side, who despite having 43 points are still not mathematically sure of another season in the top flight.

Zaragoza stay in the last relegation spot though after a 2-1 defeat at Real Sociedad, and they really need to win their last two games against Espanyol and Levante if they are to avoid the drop. The Basque side themselves only started the game two points ahead of their opponents, but Tamudo gave them the lead in the 25th minute after running on to a long ball from Diego Rivas to round Doblas and score. Gabi made it all square with a well struck free kick early in the second half, but with two minutes to go Aranburu latched on to a loose ball following a corner to drill in a low shot which took a deflection off Jarosik to wrong-foot Leo Franco, who had come on for the injured Doblas a few minutes earlier. (11.05.11)

Real Madrid kept their slim hopes of winning the title alive with a 4-0 win over city neighbours Getafe on Tuesday evening, although Barcelona only need one point in their last three games to be sure of staying ahead of them in the table. Mourinho gave a run out to young keepers Adán and Mejías, although the rest of the line up was his strongest whilst there was still a mathematical chance of success. Cristiano Ronaldo was also looking to stay ahead of Messi in the Pichichi chart, and he scored a hat-trick to make it seven in the last four days, taking him to within two of the all-time league record of 38, held jointly by Bilbao's Zarra and Madrid's own Hugo Sánchez. Ronaldo's first came midway through the first half, a well placed header from Özil's cross, and Özil set him up for a second before the striker rounded things off with a last minute penalty. And in between substitute Benzema fired home another from a long Xabi Alonso assist to leave Michel's side on the brink of the relegation spots.

Athletic Bilbao and Atlético Madrid are both looking to tie up Europa League spots this season, although they will have to wait a little longer after both lost to teams fighting to avoid the drop. Athletic Bilbao were beaten 2-1 at Deportivo, despite taking the lead through Toquero in the third minute. Midway through the first half though Gurpegui deflected a wide shot from Adrián past his own keeper, and although Llorente headed against the bar shortly before the break, Castilla turned another cross from Adrián in to his own net after good work by Valerón with twenty minutes to go. Curiously two penalties deprived Lotina's side of victory at the weekend, and now two own goals gave them three vital points to keep them above the relegation spots. That's football!

Atlético Madrid missed out on a chance to overtake Athletic after they lost 2-1 at Racing Santander. They too went ahead early on, Mario Suárez beating Toño with a shot from outside of the area after a corner came back out to him in the tenth minute. But with eight minutes to go to the break Kennedy caught out De Gea with a wide free kick, and before the half time whistle there was time for Antonio López to hit the upright with a free kick, and for both sides to have a goal disallowed. Two minutes after the restart Giovani set up Rosenberg to give the Cantabrians the lead, and the Mexican midfielder almost added to the lead when he hit the post later on.

The win means that Racing are now sure of staying up, and Málaga are now safe as well after a 2-0 victory against Sporting Gijón. The Andalusians had won their last four matches, and after a frenetic start Baptista opened the scoring with an acrobatic scissor kick, his seventh goal in five games. There was a blow for the locals when top scorer Rondón limped off injured before the interval, and half time substitute Barral missed a good chance to equalise after the restart. But a few minutes later Eliseu latched on to a Seba return pass to score the second and take his side two points above the Asturians in the table. (10.05.11)