La Liga week 38: Racing into Europe, Zaragoza relegated

Racing Santander grabbed the last available Uefa Cup place thanks to an 86th minute winner against Osasuna, while at the other end of the table it is Zaragoza who join Levante and Murcia in the second division. It doesn’t seem so long ago that Nayim was scoring against Arsenal’s David Seaman to win them the European Cup Winners Cup. Real Madrid celebrated their season again by thumping Levante 5-2, while Frank Rijkaard said goodbye to Barcelona with a 3-5 win at Murcia.

For Racing Santander this will be their first appearance ever in Europe. Nerves seemed to be getting the better of them in a tense game at home to relegation-threatened Osasuna, but with less than five minutes remaining young homegrown striker Ivan Bolado who had come on as a substitute, headed home Tchite’s cross from the right to send the home crowd into ecstasy. Osasuna had to wait until the end to hear that results elsewhere meant that they would remain in the top flight for another season.

If it was a party for both teams in Santander, in Mallorca it was the complete opposite. Zaragoza needed to win to stay up while Mallorca were hoping a slip from Racing would allow them to make the Uefa Cup. Top scorer Dani Güiza gave Mallorca an early lead but Zaragoza’s hopes were raised when Oliveira equalized in the 55th minute. The dream of survival lasted only ten minutes as Webo put the islanders back in front, and Mallorca’s dream of Europe was dashed when news came through near the end of Racing’s late winner. Castro scored a third for Mallorca on 90 minutes and there was still time for a final goal from Oliveira which did nothing to stop Zaragoza’s tears.

The other teams in danger of relegation, Recreativo and Valladolid faced each other in Huelva. Joseba Llorente put Valladolid ahead when he headed home Aguirre’s cross after 39 minutes. There were tense moments for the home fans when news came through of Zaragoza’s equalizer which left Recreativo facing the drop. But Mallorca’s second goal eased their worries and at the end Javi Guerrero equalized for Recreativo to end an hour and a half of suffering.

Real Madrid were in danger of having no opponent this week as the players from Levante had threatened to strike. In the end they turned up to play and Madrid celebrated their championship again with five more goals. Van Nistlerooy and Sergio Ramos both scored twice and Wesley Sneijder got Madrid’s other, while Geijo hit back with two goals for Levante. Madrid finish the season on 85 points which is a record number of points since the league has been made up of 20 teams (1987-1995 and 1997-now)

Frank Rijkaard’s last game in charge at Barcelona turned into a festival of goals at Murcia. Murcia started well with Ivan Alonso going close and 17-year-old Dani Aquino causing problems on the left wing. Juan Cruz Ochoa headed in from a corner after a quarter of an hour to give Murcia the lead but then Barça decided to wake up and scored three goals in ten minutes. First Eto’o turned in from Henry’s cross, and then Henry latched onto Xavi’s pass to make it 1-2. Eto’o then set up Giovani dos Santos for his first ever league goal. Giovani celebrated in the second half by adding two more stylish goals to put Barça 1-5 up, and then Murcia pulled back two late goals thanks to Ivan Alonso and Abel. Click here for more on Murcia-Barça.

Valencia ended their season well with a 3-1 win over Atletico Madrid. Seitardis scored an own goal to put Valencia in the lead, and David Villa scored twice before Agüero got Atletico’s consolation goal. It didn’t matter for Atletico who still finish fourth.

Sevilla ended their season well with a 4-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao. Aduriz put the visitors in front with a second minute penalty but Sevilla hit back with two goals from Kanoute and one each from Keita and Navas. Sevilla finish fifth and will play the Uefa Cup next season.

Almeria inflicted another home defeat on Espanyol who have had a miserable second half of the season, Felipe Melo and Crusat put Almeria 0-2 up before Luis Garcia pulled one back from the penalty spot. A last minute goal from Paunovic gave Almeria a 1-3 win.

Villarreal sealed their sixth win on the trot with a 0-2 win at Deportivo. Matias Fernandez and Guille Franco scored the goals which leave Villarreal second in the table, an impressive ten points above Barcelona.

Finally, Getafe and Betis drew 1-1 in a mid table clash. Manu del Moral scored an early goal for Getafe and Nano headed an equalizer for Betis in the second half. Michael Laudrup announced earlier in the week that he will not continue next season as Getafe’s coach.

The teams promoted to the Primera Division for next season are Numancia, Sporting Gijon and Malaga.

Top Six: Real Madrid 85, Villarreal 77, Barcelona 67, Atletico Madrid 64, Sevilla 64, Racing 60.

Bottom Six: Valladolid 45, Recreativo 44, Osasuna 43, Zaragoza 42, Murcia 30, Levante 26.

Top Scorers: Güiza 27, Luis Fabiano 24, Agüero 19, Raul 18, Nihat 18.

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