A thrilling penultimate weekend to the season, with all ten first division games scheduled to kick off at the same time on Sunday evening. Hardly any of the issues at stake were resolved though, and next weekend is likely to be even more nerve-wracking than this. The top three places were confirmed some time ago, but the fourth Champions League spot is still open, Valencia moving a couple of points above Real Sociedad after they beat Granada 1-0. With a losing head-to-head record against the Basques, Ernesto Valverde's side need to finish ahead of their rivals on points, and Soldado in particular caused a few problems for Roberto early on. However the Andalusians also wanted a result to ensure their place in the top flight for another season, and Nolito went close with a wide free kick before the break. Jonas and Mathieu tried their luck after the restart, and with an hour on the clock Soldado took advantage of Roberto's indecision to head Joao Pereira's cross past him for the opener. The visiting keeper did well to save from Jonas and Banega after that, and Nolito was unlucky to be pulled up for offside near the end. But Granada relaxed as results elsewhere confirmed their safety, and the Ches ran down the clock to tie up the three points.
Real Sociedad drop to fifth however after they were held to a 3-3 draw by Real Madrid. With nothing to play for and Ronaldo nursing a back injury, Mourinho gave a run out to several of his reserve players, but even so his team went ahead early on when Higuaín intercepted a poor clearance by Mikel González to run on and beat Bravo. The locals threw everything forward, Diego López having to make first class saves from Griezmann and Agirretxe amongst others, but twelve minutes in to the second half Callejón put the visitors further in front when he turned Kaká's cross past the keeper. Six minutes later Real got one back, Xabi Prieto firing home a penalty after Khedira cut out Chory Castro's cross with his arm in the area, and a few minutes later Griezmann made it all square after connecting with a centre from Carlos Martínez. Just two minutes after that Khedira combined with fellow countryman Özil to restore the lead, but with the game in injury time Xabi Prieto levelled the scores once again, bundling the ball in to the net after Diego could only push out his first header.
The three relegation spots are now between four sides after Deportivo and Zaragoza both lost, the Galicians the best placed to save themselves despite a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Málaga. The Andalusians are still waiting for the appeal against their European ban to be held, but in the meantime they wanted to consolidate their position in the top six, and Joaquín headed wide in the opening minutes. Riki and Valerón replied for the visitors, but with the first half coming to a close Saviola got on the end of a wide Joaquín free kick to turn the ball past Aranzubia. After the restart the visiting keeper saved from Baptista, but he could do nothing soon afterwards when the Brazilian forward picked up Saviola's return pass and held off his marker to score his side's second. With a quarter of an hour to go substitute Salomao gave his side hope with a volley from a Bruno Gama cross which bounced over the head of Willy Caballero in to the net, but five minutes later Isco wrapped things up with a third goal, and although Pizzi hit the bar with a late free kick, there was no way back for Fernando Vázquez's side.
Depor remain a point above the drop zone however after Zaragoza were thrashed 4-0 by Betis, and a win against Real Sociedad next weekend will ensure they stay up. Pepe Mel's side were also looking to secure their place in Europe, and with only fifteen seconds on the clock Rubén Castro opened the scoring with an angled shot after Jorge Molina put him through. A quarter of an hour later Pabón made it two after Castro crossed in from right of the area, and although Rodri missed a good chance to get one back, Molina and Pabón could have extended the lead before the break. Five minutes in to the second half though Molina made no mistake on a quick breakaway, and Adrián made a confident save from Rochina before Pabón rounded things off with twenty minutes to go.
A slip-up by Depor will let in any the three teams below them though, their regional neighbours Celta the best placed of the lot after a 0-2 victory at Valladolid took them level with Zaragoza but with a better head-to-head record. The Galicians had it all to play for, and Peña had to clear an Augusto Fernández header off the line before Cabral gave them the lead, heading the ball in off the bar after Augusto headed on a wide Krohn-Dehli free kick. With the first half coming to a close visiting keeper Javi Varas was stretchered off after dislocating his elbow in a bad fall, and with reserve keeper Sergio out injured, 17 year old Rubén Castro came on for his first team debut. The Spanish under 19 international immediately kept out Manucho though, and after the restart he showed a maturity beyond his years with saves from Oscar and Ebert. Iago Aspas made it two from the penalty spot after Marc Valiente handled in the area, and Krohn-Dehli came close to third when his shot bounced down off the bar on to the line.
Bottom club Mallorca kept their slim hopes of survival alive with a 0-0 draw at Atlético Madrid, although they now have to win their last match and hope that none of the teams above them does the same. This was Atleti's first game since they won the cup final, and with third place more than tied up and Falcao taking an emotive leave of the fans as well, they can be forgiven for having their minds elsewhere. Courtois had to make an early save from Javi Márquez and Falcao went close in reply, but with half an hour on the clock the visitors suffered a blow when they lost striker Hemed to an injury. Diego Costa headed over and then had a goal disallowed for offside, and after the interval Giovani fired a free kick just wide of the post. Courtois saved again from Víctor, and Falcao got the ball in the net only for it to be ruled out again for offside, but in the end it was a point apiece, a valiant effort by Manazano's side, but two points short of what they really needed.
Osasuna are sure of another season in the top flight though after they came from behind to record a 2-1 win against Sevilla, who themselves only have a very remote chance now of making it in to the Europa League positions. The locals had the better of the first half, Masoud firing a shot over the top early on, and De las Cuevas heading against the post, with Beto saving from Armenteros on the follow up. Negredo and Botía brought good saves out of Andrés at the other end though, and five minutes after the restart Negredo picked up a Jesús Navas through ball and cut past Andrés and Rubén to run the ball in to the net. A quarter of an hour later though Puñal picked up a short pass from De las Cuevas before firing a long shot in to the far top corner of the net, and with ten minutes to go Alvaro Cejudo got the winner, beating the visiting keeper with a well struck free kick. The defeat was a set back for Unai Emery's side, although they still have a chance of making it in to the Europa League if the bans for Málaga and Rayo Vallecano are confirmed.
Rayo Vallecano are now five points clear of Sevilla in eighth place after they beat local rivals Getafe 1-2, and they still have a chance to pip Betis for seventh spot if results go in their favour on the last day. Paco Jémez's side almost went ahead when Moyà pushed a Trashorras free kick on to the bar before the break, but a couple of minutes after the restart Rafa headed the locals in to the lead from a Pedro León corner. León fired a shot just wide soon afterwards, but play went up the other end, and Chori Domínguez made it all square on the breakaway. Rubén did well to tip a Lafita header over the bar and then kept out Diego Castro and Alvaro, and Moyà responded with a double save from Lass and Trashorras. But with a draw seemingly on the cards Diego Costa inexplicably turned a cross from Lass past his own keeper, handing a victory to the old rivals. Bragging rights to Rayo as Madrid's third best side, and whether they play in Europe or not next season now depends on the courts.
An emotive evening in Bilbao as the old San Mamés stadium bowed out, although Levante spoilt it somewhat by beating hosts Athletic Bilbao 0-1 on the night. The ground is being demolished this summer to make way for a new arena which will be built more or less on the same spot, and there was a poignant closing ceremony after the match finished to celebrate its passing. Both teams still have an outside chance of returning to the Europa League next season though, and all niceties were put aside in an intense 90 minutes. Iraizoz tipped a Pedro Ríos shot on to the bar and Keylor Navas had to keep out De Marcos before the break, and after the restart Diop hit the post with a deflected shot from wide on the right. The Basque side were left with ten men though for the last half hour or so after Muniain was sent off for catching Héctor Rodas with a flying elbow and a bit more, and with the game in injury time Juanlu latched on to Valdo's cross to fire home a winner which takes the Levante based side a point above Bielsa's men in the table.
Espanyol drop a point behind Levante after they were beaten 0-2 by city neighbours Barcelona. Although there was little to play for, the atmosphere was stirred up by a controversial marketing campaign by the visitors which involved hanging a team shirt on a local landmark, and when the already crowned champions came out to the traditional applause from their hosts, many fans turned their backs. The mood on the pitch was calm though, and Barça soon got in to gear, Alexis picking up David Villa's return pass and ghosting past Colotto and Raúl Rodríguez before firing a shot wide of Cristian Alvarez. Fàbregas hit the post a few minutes later, and Espanyol's only reply in the first half was a weak shot by Colotto at keeper Víctor Valdés. Villa missed a couple of chances to increase the lead after the interval, but with ten minutes to go Wakaso got himself sent off for protesting, and five minutes later Pedro ran on to Xavi's return through ball to wrap things up. Barça move on to 97 points, and a win next weekend will take them on to one hundred, equalling Real Madrid's record haul from last season. (26.05.13)