Real Madrid are league champions for the 33rd time in their history after they beat Málaga 0-2 on Sunday night! After Wednesday night’s win at Celta, Zidane’s side needed at least a draw to stay ahead of Barcelona, and with only two minutes gone Ronaldo gave them the lead after Isco put him through. Sandro in particular brought two or three good saves out of Keylor Navas before the break, but Kameni had to keep out Ronaldo, and some ten minutes in to the second half the local keeper could only block a shot from Sergio Ramos following a Kroos corner, and Benzema was on hand to stick in the rebound. Both keepers had saves to make after that, Kameni stopping Morata and Modric, and Navas deflecting a late shot from Chory Castro on to the woodwork late on, but the result was never in doubt after that opening goal, and Madrid had their first league title in five years.
Barcelona themselves came back from two goals down to beat Eibar 4-2, although their efforts were all in vain in the end. The writing was already on the cards when news came in that Ronaldo had scored, and soon afterwards Inui got on the end of Capa’s cross to beat Ter Stegen on the far post. In the next few minutes Yoel made a string of saves from Luis Suárez, Iniesta, Messi and others, and with an hour on the clock Inui put the visitors further ahead with a volley in off the crossbar from a Sergi Enrich centre.Two minutes after that though Juncà put through his own net after Neymar’s shot came off the post, and soon afterwards Yoel saved a Messi penalty after Kike García brought down Jordi Alba in the area. It didn’t take long hover for Barça to turn things around, Luis Suárez making it all square after Paco Alcácer headed on a corner, and Messi converting a second penalty after Capa was shown a second yellow card for what the referee considered to be a foul on Neymar. Messi scored a fourth in injury time following one of his typical runs from midfield to make sure of this season’s European Golden Shoe, but no league title for Luis Enrique’s side this year, and all they have left is next weekend’s cup final.
Earlier in the evening Villarreal made sure of fifth place after a 1-3 victory at regional neighbours Valencia, Fran Escribá’s team thereby taking the most coveted of the Europa League spots which gives direct access to the league stage of the competition. Soldado fired home the opener against his old club with only a minute on the clock, but the Ches came back after that, Andrés having to save from Dani Parejo and Gayà before the interval. Bakambu hit the post though after the restart, and although Nani headed the equalizer from Rodrigo’s cross, Trigueros restored the lead after getting on the end of a Jonathan Dos Santos centre soon afterwards. Zaza caused a few problems for Andrés later on, but with the game coming to an end Sansone wrapped things up after Adrián López put him through.
Real Sociedad meanwhile tied up the second of the Europa League spots after a last minute 2-2 draw at Celta, the result taking them a point above arch-rivals Athletic in the table. Although they had nothing to play for after their elimination from the Europa League, the Galicians wanted to finish in style, and Roncaglia and Wass went close early on. Sergio Alvarez had to save from Willian José and Carlos Vela before the interval, but some ten minutes in to the second half Iago Aspas was brought down by Iñigo Martínez in the area, and Aspas himself fired home the resulting spot kick. With eight minutes to go Oyarzabal made it all square after Xabi Prieto set him up, but a strike from Hjulsager appeared to have ended Real’s European hopes until Juanmi headed in a Canales corner in the fourth and final minute of time added on.
Athletic Bilbao drop to seventh though after a 3-1 defeat at third placed Atlético Madrid, and they have to wait for the result of next weekend’s cup final to see whether they get the third Europa League place or not. It was Atleti’s last match in the Calderón stadium before moving to a new home, and a big crowd turned up to see Fernando Torres score twice in the first ten minutes, the opener from Griezmann’s headed pass, and the second with a hooked shot over Kepa. Oblak had to save from Laporte after the interval, but Torres could have had his hat-trick had Griezmann not decided to intervene as the ball span out of Kepa’s grip back towards the goal-line, the French striker tapping the ball in only to be ruled out for offside! With twenty minutes to go Williams gave Valverde’s side hope of a turn-around with a shot which went in off Savic, but with two minutes left on the clock Correa put the game beyond their reach after a shot from Griezmann came to him off the post. They now need Alavés to lose to Barcelona next Saturday to qualify for Europe, albeit that they would have to enter at the early stages of the competition if that happens. (21.05.17)
Four more matches on Saturday, fourth placed Sevilla rounding off their season with a 5-0 win over Osasuna, who finish in next to bottom spot following Granada’s defeat on Friday. The Andalusians went three up before the break, Vitolo starting things off after Sirigu could only push out a shot from Correa. Franco Vázquez added the second from an Escudero centre a few minutes later, and Jovetic got the third after picking up a pass from Vitolo shortly before the interval. Kodro and Riera brought good saves out of David Soria after the restart, but Vázquez got on the end of Mariano’s cross to score a fourth, and Vitolo wrapped things up with a solo effort later on. The result gives Sevilla their best ranking in seven years, a fitting end for Sampaoli, who leaves the club to take over as the Argentina national coach. Some fans didn’t agree with his decision to go though, and there were a few whistles when his name was announced before kick-off.
The early evening had been reserved for the battle to avoid the last relegation spot, but as Sporting Gijón went down last weekend, there was nothing left to decide. Sporting themselves drew 2-2 with Betis in the first game of the afternoon, Douglas giving them an early lead with a low shot, but Rubén Castro making it all square after Cuéllar kicked at air trying to clear a long ball from Cejudo. Castro and Ceballos went close either side of half time, and with just under an hour gone Castro got his second of the evening with an angled shot from the edge of the area. Carmona brought a good save out of Dani Giménez however before scoring the equalizer, although with the game in injury time Jonas could have won it for the visitors had his header not hit the crossbar.
Deportivo and Leganés both saved themselves last weekend though, and they celebrated their survival in their own stadiums on Saturday evening. Deportivo beat a rudderless Las Palmas 3-0, the Canary Islanders thankful that the season has ended after only picking up one point from their last seven games. Andone scored twice in the first half an hour, the first from Guilherme’s pass, and the second after running through from his own half, and Carles Gil added the third before the break after Lizoain could only push out a cross from Ola John. Debutant keeper Davy Roef had to make a couple of saves from Jonathan Viera free kicks either side of the interval, but Andone came close to a hat-trick a couple of times, and the visitors ended with ten men when Hernán picked up a second booking with ten minutes to go.
A festival atmosphere at Leganés as well, the Madrid based side ending their first ever season in the top flight some four points clear of the bottom three after a 1-1 draw against cup finalists Alavés. The visitors had the better chances in the first half, Ibai Gómez in particular volleying a shot wide and then having a strike ruled out for a borderline offside. Guerrero tested Pacheco with a free kick after the break, but Sobrino and Camarasa went close, and some twenty minutes in to the second half Krsticic headed the Vitoria based side in to the lead from Feddal’s cross. Alberto Bueno brought another good save out of Champagne however, and with a couple of minutes to go Timor equalized with an impressive shot from outside of the area to round off a magical night for the home fans. (20.05.17)
The last weekend of the season, with the league title and the Europa League spots still to be decided. All of that takes place on Sunday though, but before the big day several games have been scheduled between teams with nothing to play for but pride (and possibly a bit of extra income from television rights!). The first of those was on Friday night between the already relegated Granada and Espanyol, the Catalans running out 1-2 victors to move up to eighth pending the rest of the weekend matches. All the goals came in the first quarter of the game, Leo Baptistao opening the scoring after Lombán could only drag on a cross from Piatti, and Baptistao then crossing in for Rubén Vezo to put through his own net. Andreas Pereira got one back for the locals though, and only a couple of good saves by Diego López prevented Pereira and Entrena from levelling the scores. A sad end for the Andalusians however after six years in the top flight, and a disappointment for coach Tony Adams, whose side have failed to pick up a single point since he took over seven games ago. (19.05.17)