The league phase of the second division came to an end this weekend, with Betis making sure of the title after coming from behind to beat Villarreal B 2-1. Pepe Mel's side needed to win to stay ahead of Rayo, but with just over a quarter of an hour gone Joselu forced a good save out of Casto before opening the scoring for the visitors from the resulting corner. The local keeper had to be at his best to keep out a Marquitos free kick a few minutes later, but Rubén Castro had an effort cleared off the line before levelling the scores with a header from a Miguel Lopes cross on the hour mark. Two minutes later Iriney drilled a long shot past Vicente Flor to turn the scoreline around, and from then on it was celebrations all round, with Mel making tactical substitutions to allow players who are probably leaving to say their good-byes to the crowd.
Rayo Vallecano finish second after they were beaten 2-3 by Barcelona Athletic, although the result was unimportant as the Madrid based side had already ensured promotion. Piti gave the locals the lead midway through the first half, but although Luis Enrique's team were missing no less than eight players on youth international duty, two excellent goals from Tello late in the first half silenced the crowd. Twenty minutes in to the second half Jonathan Soriano scored a third, confirming his position as second division Pichichi with 32 goals, and Trejo completed the scoring later on. A festival atmosphere in Sevilla and Madrid though, and next season it will be Villarreal and Barcelona's first teams who visit the Benito Villamarín and Vallecas stadiums!
Who goes up with Betis and Rayo has yet to be decided though, and the play-off line-up is now complete after Valladolid made sure of the last spot with a 2-0 victory over Alcorcón. With only a quarter of the game gone it was already settled, Javi Guerra heading home Jofre's cross from close to goal in the ninth minute, and then scoring his second of the evening and his 27th of the season after Eladio failed to hold on to another centre from Jofre. After the break Jofre could have added to the scoreline, but with his side only needing a point the result was never in danger.
Abel Resino's side will meet Elche after the East coast side thrashed Xerez 4-1. The Andalusians were the only team who could have caught Valladolid in the rankings, but although José Marí gave the home fans a fright early on, a terrible mistake by visiting keeper Lledó allowed Bodipo to score in to an empty net with only four minutes on the clock. Two minutes later Santos turned in a cross from Cristobal to make it two, and with Valladolid scoring soon afterwards their challenge was over. Capdevila did score the goal of the weekend with a "rabona" (cow-tail) flick over the advancing keeper later in the first half, but after the restart a Santos header and a last minute strike from Angel put the result beyond the visitors' reach.
Granada will play Celta in the other play-off semi-final after they drew 0-0 at regional neighbours Recreativo. The Andalusians started the day ahead of Elche in the table, but a draw suited them well to drop down below them in the table and thereby avoid the more dangerous Valladolid. Despite the result both teams had their chances, Kepa, Fidel and Matamala all going close for the locals and Collantes and Abel Gómez bringing good saves out of Bernardo before the interval. After the restart though the rhythm dropped off, and both sides settled for a point, which for Recre was their 20th draw of the season.
Celta showed they will be no pushover though after beating Cartagena 3-0 in their Balaidos stadium. The Galicians had not won at home since the end of February, but Michu gave them the lead with a shot from outside of the area on the quarter hour mark, and Joan Tomás made it two just three minutes later, lifting the ball over Rebollo and heading in to the empty net after controlling a cross from Iago Aspas. And Dani Abalo scored the third with twenty minutes to go after Jota set him up, giving Paco Herrera the result he needed to restore a bit of confidence prior to Wednesday's first leg against the Andalusians.
There was only pride to play for in the other games on Saturday evening, although Tenerife were looking for more than that in their visit to Canary Island neighbours Las Palmas after their dramatic plunge from the first division to the second division B in two seasons. They lost bragging rights as well though after losing 1-0 to their arch rivals, Sergio Suárez getting the only goal from the penalty spot midway through the first half after Ricardo brought down Javi Guerrero in the area.
This season some well established teams have been relegated, with Albacete also falling from grace after a disastrous season. They finish the year in bottom spot, although they will get a little bit of comfort from a 3-1 victory over Huesca. Tato opened the scoring from Adriá's cross on the quarter hour mark, and then scored a second from the penalty spot after he was brought down by Iñigo in the area. Roberto headed one back from a Marco Navas cross after the restart, but Cristian completed the scoring after battling through to beat Cabrero late on.
Salamanca are another ex-first division side who are going down, and they ended their season with a 2-2 draw against Numancia. Balta's side twice took the lead, Sergio García getting the first from Edu Bedïa's assist in the fourth minute and Juanjo heading them back in front late on after Del Pino had equalised. But with five minutes to go Del Pino made it all square with another header to round off a dismal season for the locals.
Ponferradina will be returning once again to second division B, the second time in four seasons that they will going down after just a year at this level, and they ended the campaign with a 1-1 draw against Gimnàstic. The Catalans only saved themselves last week, and they celebrated by taking the lead in the sixth minute, Fernando Morán taking advantage of a defensive error to beat Alejandro from a wide angle. Acorán equalised on the stroke of half time though to give his team a share of the points for the 19th time this season.
Córdoba also made sure of another season at this level last weekend, and they ended the current campaign with a 2-1 defeat at Girona. Serra headed the locals in to the lead in the twentieth minute after Coca could only push out a previous effort, but Dañobeitia made it all square a few minutes later. Kiko Ratón won it though with a second half penalty after Gerardo fouled Moha in the area, keeping Raúl Agné's side in a more than acceptable eleventh place at the end of the season. (04.06.11)