Qatar-owned Malaga secured fourth
place in La Liga and a first shot at the Champions League with a
1-0 home win over Sporting Gijon, who joined Villarreal in being
relegated, in a dramatic finale to the season on Sunday.
The last eight matches had three places in Europe and two
relegation slots at stake as the games all kicked off at the
same time with fans glued to their radios in grounds around
Salomon Rondon headed Malaga in front from a corner just
after half-time, putting the big-spending club on 58 points ahead
of Atletico Madrid and Levante who finished fifth and sixth to
secure entry to the Europa League.
"The dressing room are delighted. We weren't content to
settle for a Europa League place," Malaga coach Manuel
Pellegrini, who took over midway through last season, told a
"Malaga have beaten many institutions that are much stronger
than we are. We are going to start to experience many new
things, and need to be prepared in many different areas. This is
a five-year project."
Atletico beat Villarreal 1-0 with an 88th-minute header from
Radamel Falcao, the hero of their midweek Europa League final
win over Athletic Bilbao, and condemned the team that finished
fourth last season to relegation.
Villarreal were hanging by a thread in 17th when news
filtered through that Rayo Vallecano had grabbed a 90th-minute
winner through Raul Tamudo, for a 1-0 victory over Granada.
Rayo pushed Villarreal, the Champions League semi-finalists
in 2006, down into the second division and a pitch invasion at
their tiny stadium saw players being stripped of their kit.
"It's very tough," Villarreal defender Angel told Spanish
television as he left the pitch at the Madrigal.
"Football is like this. Sometimes strange things happen. We
have to try and pick ourselves up. This is football."
Real Zaragoza escaped from the bottom three with a 2-0
victory at Getafe who finished with eight men on the pitch.
Levante secured their highest league finish in their 102
years with a 3-0 rout of Europa League finalists Bilbao, and
qualified for European competition for the first time.
Abdelkader Ghezzal scored twice and Francisco Farinos
grabbed a late penalty to cap a remarkable campaign for the
small club from Valencia, who had been expected to be battling
to avoid relegation.
Champions Real Madrid signed off with a 4-1 hammering of
Real Mallorca at the Bernabeu to set a new La Liga record of 100
points for a season, beating the previous best of 99 achieved by
Pep Guardiola's Barcelona in 2010.
Cristiano Ronaldo, headed his 46th league goal of the
campaign, Karim Benzema and a double from Mesut Ozil lifted Real
to a league scoring record 121 goals.
Real ended nine points ahead of deposed champions Barcelona,
who signed off with a 2-2 draw at Real Betis on Saturday.
Valencia were 30 points back in third in the last automatic
qualification Champions League slot despite losing 1-0 at Real
Sociedad on Saturday.
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