La Liga – Real deepen Barca gloom
Newly crowned La Liga champions Real Madrid piled the misery on arch rivals Barcelona with an embarrassingly comfortable 4-1 victory at the Bernabeu.
Barca were forced to form a guard of honour for Bernd Schuster’s men prior to kick-off, and they were a goal down inside a quarter of an hour thanks to a typically clinical finish from Raul.
Thierry Henry netted a late consolation, but it was not enough to soften the blow of being consigned to Champions League pre-qualifying next season by second-placed Villarreal’s earlier win at Recreativo.
The visitors saw a lot of the ball in the game’s opening stages, but with 12 minutes gone Real took the lead when Raul curled an inch-perfect shot around Victor Valdes from the edge of the box after Guti’s trip on Rafael Marquez went unnoticed.
Less than 10 minutes later it was 2-0 as Robben followed up his header in the title-clinching 2-1 win at Osasuna at the weekend with another headed effort after Guti’s right-wing free-kick caught the Barca defence napping.
Real’s passing displayed a fluency that has typified some of their best performances this season, and Guti and Robben both drew saves from Valdes before the break.
Diarra was quickly back on the attack though, and with just under half an hour to play his pass from the right allowed Higuain – who had been on the pitch less than an minute – to calmly lift the ball over Valdes.
Carles Puyol then conceded a penalty when he used his arms to block Robinho‘s shot from the left-hand edge of the area, enabling Van Nistelrooy to tuck the ball past Valdes from 12 yards with his first touch after coming on for Raul.
Henry coolly tucked the ball home from Lionel Messi‘s through-ball to claim a late consolation, before Xavi’s injury-time sending off for a second bookable offence sealed a dismal night and a wretched season for the Catalan giants.
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RECREATIVO HUELVA 0 VILLARREAL 2
The game at the Nuevo Colombino got off to a scrappy start enlightened by the departure of Recre midfielder Rafael Barber with an injury sustained while slyly attempting to trip Nihat.
Recre, who went into the game just outside the relegation zone, then began to force the issue, and after the busy Florent Sinama-Pongolle cracked a shot against the crossbar from the edge of the area, visiting goalkeeper Diego Lopez produced an excellent point-blank save to deny Ruben.
But the visitors emerged from half-time with fresh purpose, and after five minutes of the second period they went ahead when Nihat curled a free-kick into the bottom-left corner from 25 yards.
Javier Camunas and Ruben forced Lopez into saves as Recre hunted an equaliser, but they were undone by a well-constructed counter-attack with 10 minutes remaining that saw substitute Franco tuck home Santi Cazorla’s low centre from the left.
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DEPORTIVO CORUNA 1 LEVANTE 0
Striker Riki grabbed the win for Deportivo against their relegated opponents with a clever improvised finish three minutes from time.
The Levante players staged a protest after the kickoff at the club’s failure to pay them by standing still in the centre circle while a Deportivo player ran the length of the pitch and hoofed the ball out of play for a goal kick.
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GETAFE 4 ALMERIA 2
A first victory in eight games for Getafe but they did it the hard way, battling their way back after Albert Crusat and an own goal from defender Daniel Cata Diaz had put Almeria 2-0 up after a little over 10 minutes.
Striker Juan Albin began the fightback when he snapped in after the Almeria defence failed to clear a free kick and Manu del Moral equalised with a stunning solo effort just after the hour.
Del Moral struck again to put Getafe 3-2 up when he drilled in a first-time shot midway through the second half and midfielder Esteban Ganero wrapped up from the penalty spot after a handball from former Getafe player Ruben Pulido.
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RACING SANTANDER 0 SEVILLA 3
Sevilla stayed in the hunt for a Champions League place with this impressive win in torrential rain.
Racing spurned the chance to take the lead when Argentine midfielder Aldo Duscher smashed a penalty against the bar and were made to pay by Sevilla defender Federico Fazio who scored either side of the break to put the visitors 2-0 up.
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REAL MALLORCA 2 OSASUNA 1
Osasuna remain in the relegation zone after this costly defeat against the in-form islanders.
Mallorca striker Dani Guiza took his tally for the season to 25 when he fired past keeper Ricardo with a pin-point first time shot in the first half but Javier Portillo looked to have earned his side a point when equalised 16 minutes from time.
The former Real Madrid striker blotted his copy book when he was sent off seven minutes later for a reckless challenge on Fernando Navarro and Oscar Trejo snatched the win for Mallorca in the final minute.
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REAL BETIS 1 VALLADOLID 1
Honours even between two sides battling for survival in the top flight.
Winger Mark Gonzalez put Betis in front from the penalty spot early in the second half, striker Victor drilled in the equaliser and Valladolid managed to hang on for a point despite having Daniel Cifuentes sent off 10 minutes from time.
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REAL MURCIA 1 ATHLETIC BILBAO 2
Bilbao fell behind to an early goal from Uruguayan striker Ivan Alonso but hit back for a win thanks to a goal from towering centre forward Fernando Llorente and a late effort from midfielder Igor Gabilondo.
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VALENCIA 1 REAL ZARAGOZA 0
Victory for Valencia in a classic relegation six-pointer thanks to a neatly worked goal from David Silva on 21 minutes.
The Spain international took the gloss of the win, however, when he was sent off late in the game after picking up two quick-fire bookings, the second for dissent.
Tom Williams / Eurosport / Reuters