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Relegation for Real Betis

Real Betis were relegated from the Primera Division on Sunday night as the race to remain in the top flight went to the wire. Betis started the day two places outside the bottom three but a 1-1 draw against Real Valladolid proved not enough as both Osasuna and Sporting Gijon won to pull clear.

Osasuna’s escape is the most remarkable as they beat champions Barcelona last week and claimed a 2-1 victory over second-placed Real Madrid on Sunday night. The Pamplona-based club fell behind to Madrid with Gonzalo Higuain cutting in from the right before firing a low shot past home keeper Ricardo. A mistake from Iker Casillas allowed them to pull level, the Spain keeper letting a low shot from Jaroslav Plasil slip under his body and into the net. There was nothing lucky about the winner, however, Juanfran’s spectacular volley finding the top right-hand corner.

When that goal went in, Madrid were already down to 10 men with full-back Michel Salgado harshly seeing red for a supposed trip on his final appearance for the club. Juande Ramos’s side were then reduced to nine players with Klaas Jan Huntelaar also dismissed late on.

Sporting would have fallen through the trapdoor had they not beaten already-relegated Recreativo Huelva 2-1. Ersen Martin put Recre ahead but goals from David Barral and Luis Moran turned the match around.

Betis were unable to win after also going behind. Marcos Aguirre opened the scoring for Valladolid but all the Seville-based club could muster in reply was an equaliser from Ricardo Oliveira. Betis finish the season level on 42 points, the same as Getafe. Their head-to-head record is also identical following two draws but Getafe stay up due to their superior goal difference.

Getafe finished with a 1-1 draw at Racing Santander. Toni gave Racing a 34th-minute lead but Esteban Granero levelled matters six minutes before half-time.

Espanyol looked odds-on to go down just a few months ago only to stage a remarkable resurgence which continued on Sunday with a 3-0 thrashing of Malaga in Barcelona. Captain Raul Tamudo netted a hat-trick for the hosts against a Malaga side who finished with 10 men following the sending-off of Weligton.

Third-placed Sevilla ended with a 2-0 win at Numancia, who will play Segunda Division football next season. An experimental Sevilla side went ahead two minutes from time through substitute Emiliano Armenteros and an own goal a minute later from Juan Carlos Moreno completed another miserable night for the hosts.

On Saturday, Atletico Madrid sealed the fourth and final Champions League spot with a 3-0 Primera Division win over Almeria. Atletico began the day with a two-point advantage over Villarreal and never looked like throwing that away as they took a two-goal lead through Sergio Aguero (19) and Raul Garcia (27). Diego Forlan grabbed a third five minutes into the second half, a goal which also helped him to the top-scorer’s ‘Pichichi’ award ahead of Barcelona’s Samuel Eto’o.

The result meant Villarreal’s 3-2 win at Real Mallorca was academic. The Yellow Submarine took the lead on the half-hour mark through Ruben Cani but were pegged back six minutes later by Aritz Aduriz. Joseba Llorente scored a double either side of half-time (40 and 53) to seal the points, though Pierre Webo grabbed a late consolation.

Villarreal go into the Europa League, as do Valencia, who were 2-0 winners over Athletic Bilbao. David Villa opened the scoring after seven minutes but they had to wait until the dying seconds to add a second through Pablo Hernandez, by which time Athletic had had Mikel Balenziaga sent off (78).

That result meant Deportivo La Coruna could not pip them to a European place, irrespective of their result against treble winners Barcelona. As it was the match ended in a 1-1 draw, Rodolfo Bodipo scoring for the hosts after 31 minutes and Eto’o levelling moments before the end.

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