A thrilling last day of the season, with Sporting Gijón saving themselves and Madrid based sides Getafe and Rayo Vallecano both going down with Levante. After a recent change in form under new coach Juan Eduardo Esnáider, Getafe were the best placed of the three coming in to Sunday’s games, needing only to win at Betis to stay up. However they were beaten 2-1 by the Andalusians, ending a run of twelve years in a row in the top flight. Scepovic did have a couple of chances to give the visitors the lead, a header just wide in the first half, and an effort which was saved by Dani Giménez soon after the restart.Some ten minutes in to the second half though the Andalusians went in front, Pezzella getting above Juan Rodríguez to head Joaquín’s free kick past the keeper. A few minutes later referee Gil Manzano awarded a hotly disputed penalty after Damián Suárez brought down Musonda (the foul clearly taking place outside of the area), and Rubén Castro stepped up to slot home the resulting spot kick. Frustrations grew, and Emi Buendía got himself sent off for a hard tackle on Dani Ceballos. And although Alvaro Medrán did get one back with an individualist effort, there was no time left for any more.
Sporting Gijón though won 2-0 against Villarreal to ensure another year in the top flight, and there were scenes of jubilation in the Molinón stadium when news came in that Getafe had lost. The visitors had nothing to play for, and coach Marcelino (himself an ex Sporting player and manager) gave a run out to some of his lesser used players. With only eight minutes gone Jony opened the scoring with a snap-shot from Carmona’s cross, and although Leo Baptistao hit the post at the other end a minute later, the locals were on top for the rest of the first half. Isma López, Sanabria and Jony all brought good saves out of Barbosa, and Sanabria, Rachid and Guerrero fired shots wide, and after the interval Sanabria, Castro and Halilovic all went close before Sergio Alvarez latched on to Sanabria’s pass to fire the second in off the crossbar. Abelardo’s side were saved, although they had Betis to thank for that, as well as Villarreal’s lack of ambition in this match.
That left Rayo Vallecano with no chance of overtaking the Asturians, and although they beat the already relegated Levante 3-1, their efforts were all in vain. Pablo Hernández gave them the lead in the twelfth minute, turning a shot back past Diego Mariño after a Trashorras corner was headed clear, and Jozabed made it two without knowing too much about it, a Trashorras shot hitting him on the backside to wrong-foot the keeper. The locals had two or three chances to increase the lead, in particular a shot from Javi Guerra just wide of the post, but with an hour on the clock Verza got one back from the penalty spot after Amaya pulled down Rubén García in the area. A few minutes later Miku wrapped up the win after Guerra failed to turn in Bebé’s cross, but they still ended the day a point below Sporting in the table. The defeat the week before at Real Sociedad had condemned them to relegation after five years at the top, but their fans remained steadfastly in the stadium well after the final whistle until the players came back out of the dressing room to acknowledge their applause. They’ll be back!
Elsewhere there were two matches with nothing at stake, Málaga winning 4-1 against Las Palmas in the mid-day kick-off to end the season in eighth place. The Andalusians started the day just a point above their opponents, but midway through the first half Duje Cop headed them into the lead from a Miguel Torres cross. Before that though Willian José had headed against the upright, and the ex Castilla striker levelled the scores after Tana played a corner back in to the box. Later in the first half Ochoa had to make a couple of important saves, but with half time approaching Lemos was adjudged to have handled in the area, and Charles stepped up to fire home the resulting spot kick. The result was in doubt however until six minutes from the end, when Atsu cut through to score a third, and two minutes later Charles got on the end of a Duda centre to complete the scoring
Espanyol meanwhile ended what has been a mediocre season with a victory after they beat Eibar 4-2 later in the evening. Gerard Moreno ran on to a Víctor Sánchez through ball to round the keeper for the first with just under a quarter of an hour gone, and although Pau López had to save from Keko soon afterwards, Marco Asensio got on the end of a Moreno cross to slide in the second before the break. A few minutes in to the second half Borja Bastón got one back from the penalty spot after Enzo Roco brought down Keko in the area, but Asensio restored the two goal cushion with an individualist effort before setting up Moreno for a fourth. Pau López did have to save from Escalante late on, and from the resulting corner Borja headed back Keko’s cross for Sergi Enrich to head home a second for the visitors, but there was no time for the Basque side to change the result. (15.05.16)
Barcelona retain the league title after they beat Granada 0-3 on Saturday, the result keeping them a point ahead of Real Madrid in the table. Helped by the fact that their opponents had secured their place in the top flight last week, Luis Enrique’s side attacked right from the start, Andrés having to save from Piqué and Messi, and Neymar having an effort deflected for a corner. Midway through the first half though Jordi alba crossed in for Luis Suárez to open the scoring, and a few minutes later Suárez got in front of his marker to head in a second after Alves hooked Mascherano’s long pass back in to the box. Ter Stegen did have to keep out Fran Rico when he got free in front of goal after the restart, and Barral hit the post near the end, but Messi and Neymar tested Andrés again before Neymar set up Suárez for his hat-trick, the striker’s fortieth of the season in the league ensuring him the European Golden Boot for the second time. It was Barça’s sixth title in eight years, and their 24 th overall, and they still have a chance to tie up a domestic double when they meet Sevilla in the cup final next weekend.
Real Madrid needed to win at the already safe Deportivo and hope that Barcelona dropped points, and they got off to a best possible start when Bale and Benzema combined for Ronaldo to score the opener in the eighth minute. Ramos and Modric went close soon afterwards, and midway through the first half Ronaldo got his second of the night with a header from a Kroos corner which went in off the back of Mosquera, the referee waving away claims for a possible foul by Bale on Arribas. Pletikosa had to save from Benzema, and Ronaldo hit the woodwork twice, but at half time Zidane decided, with the game already won, to rest the Portuguese striker for the upcoming Champions League final. Depor did try to get back in it, Fede shooting wide just before the break, and Keylor Navas having to save from Lucas Pérez and Rober after the restart, but James and Isco could have added to the lead later on. News came in though that Barça had won, and despite a run of twelve wins in a row, Madrid had to settle for the runners up spot once again.
Later in the evening Athletic Bilbao tied up fifth spot after they beat Sevilla 3-1, the win taking them above Celta in the rankings. The Andalusians were already sure of a Europa League spot for next season, and with two cup finals coming up in the next eight days, Unai Emery put out a line-up packed with reserves and youngsters. Even so Iraoizoz had to be at his best to keep out Iborra early on, but soon afterwards Aduríz put the locals ahead after Sergio Rico could only push out a shot from Raúl García which hit N’Zonzi at first. With half an hour gone Aduríz got on the end of Susaeta’s cross to volley home his second, and although Juan Muñoz got one back from a Curro assist, the visitors were left with ten men when referee Alvarez Izquierdo (who had already shown a red card to Coke on the bench) sent off Kolodziejczak for insulting a linesman. A few minutes later Raúl García wrapped things up with a header from Susaeta’s cross, and there was a standing ovation from the crowd when team captain Gurpegui left the field for the last time before retiring. Numbers were evened up when Mikel Rico was also sent off for a rash tackle on an opponent, but it was too late for Sevilla to prevent another defeat which meant they had not won a single match away from home this season. They won’t be too bothered about that though, and they are now looking forward to those two cup finals, hoping to beat Liverpool next Wednesday to tie up a place in the Champions League.
Celta though drop to sixth after they lost 2-0 at third placed Atlético Madrid, and they will now have to start their pre-season early in order to prepare for the Europa League qualifying rounds. Atleti themselves had dropped out of the title race after their defeat at Levante last weekend, but Simeone still put out a strong line-up in order to prepare for their Champions League final against Real Madrid in a fortnight’s time. Sergio Alvarez had to keep out Saúl Ñíguez, and Godín headed against the bar early on, but Oblak (who needed a clean sheet to equal the best ever performance by a keeper in La Liga) made important saves as well from an Orellana header and a Nolito free kick. Soon after the interval however Fernando Torres opened the scoring with an acrobatic volley after Wass could only head back a corner, and three minutes later Griezmann headed a second after another volley from Torres came back off the bar. Oblak saved again from Nolito after that, and Saúl and Carrasco went close at the other end, but the scoreline remained unmoved. (14.05.16)
One fixture brought forward to Friday in the last weekend of the season, Real Sociedad beating Valencia 0-1 to move up to eighth place pending Málaga’s game on Sunday. Neither side had anything left to play for other than a larger share of TV revenue for next season, and both coaches gave run outs to lesser used players. Chances were few and far between however until the latter stages, with the visitors testing Jaume Domenech with efforts from Bruma and Zurutuza. Santi Mina and Negredo went close at the other end, but with the match in the fourth and final minute of injury time Aderlan had to clear a shot from Bruma off the line, and Oyarzabal was at hand to drill home the rebound. It was a disappointing end to a poor season for the Ches, and there were protests from the local fans after referee Velasco Carballo (who is retiring this summer) blew the final whistle. (13.05.16)