Real Madrid confirmed their status as league champions with a dramatic 2-1 win over Osasuna on Sunday night.
The win was far from straightforward for Los Merengues, who had defender Fabio Cannavaro sent off in the 45th minute, and fell behind to an 83rd-minute penalty from Patxi Punal. Real produced a late fightback, drawing level through Arjen Robben before Gonzalo Higuain drove home a last minute winner. Ten points clear of the their nearest challengers with just three games left, Real cannot be caught now.
Two goals from Turkish midfielder Nihat gave Villarreal a 2-0 home win over Getafe, and kept them on course for a remarkable second place finish ahead of Bracelona. Eliminated from Europe in midweek, with the league championship well beyond their reach, Barca produced their strongest league performance in many weeks, hammering Valencia 6-0. A Lionel Messi spot-kick opened the scoring after just six minutes, before Xavi made it 2-0 and two goals apiece from Thierry Henry and Bojan Krkic completed the rout.
Atletico Madrid look like favourites to secure the fourth European Cup spot after a 3-0 home win over Recreativo. Santander beat Real Murcia 3-2 and remain in contention. Sevilla also harbour realistic hopes of Europe after a brace from Brazilian midfielder Renato helped them to a 2-0 win over Valladolid, lifting them to sixth place. Both Racing and Sevilla have a game in hand on the Madrid club, and with three games still to play the matter is far from decided.
Former Argentina captain Roberto Ayala scored a sensational last-minute winner for Real Zaragoza against Deportivo LaCoruna on Saturday. A mere two points separate 13th and 18th in the table, meaning that any one from Betis, Getafe, Valladolid, Valencia, Zaragoza, Osasuna and Recrativo could follow Levante and Mucia through the trapdoor.
By Houman Barekat