La Liga Week 37 round-up: Valencia tie up third spot

Valencia wrapped up the third Champions League place on a night of high drama in La Liga with two of the three relegation places still to be decided.

Los Che had a last-minute goal from Brazilian striker Jonas to thank for a 1-0 victory over Villarreal who are now just one point above the drop zone, while Valencia’s closest challengers Malaga went down to a 2-1 defeat against Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon.

Manuel Pellegrini’s men took the lead on 37 minutes when Eliseu’s long-range effort beat Thibaut Courtois, but the hosts hit back in the second half through Koke and Adrian to leave themselves two points off fourth spot before their visit to Villarreal next week.

As for Malaga, the Costa del Sol side need to beat Sporting Gijon at La Rosaleda on the final day if they are to qualify for Europe’s premier competition, with the Asturians also needing victory despite a 2-1 defeat of Real Betis. A brace from Argentine frontman Gaston Sangoy, one from the penalty spot, has given Javier Clemente’s side a slim hope of survival after Jorge Molina had equalised for Betis on the stroke of half-time.

Real Zaragoza are another team fighting for their Primera lives and were boosted by a 2-1 win over already-relegated Racing Santander at La Romareda, Helder Postiga and Angel Lafita on target for Los Manos after Christian Stuani had given the visitors an early lead.

Zaragoza are now level on points with Rayo Vallecano following the Madrid side’s 5-2 defeat at Sevilla. Baba (2), Juan Cala, Jose Antonio Reyes and Freddie Kanoute got the goals for Sevilla with Diego Costa replying for Rayo, who have lost six on the spin and now face a crucial home clash against Granada on the final day with both teams still in danger of the drop.

Granada were involved in some ugly scenes following their 2-1 defeat to champions Real Madrid at Los Carmenes. Franco Jara gave the Andalusians a fourth minute lead and were winning until 10 minutes from time. However, Cristiano Ronaldo converted from the penalty spot after being fouled then David Cortes put through his own goal, and there followed an altercation between the Granada players and the officials at the final whistle.

The home team’s Dani Benitez, who had been substituted one minute from time, appeared to throw a bottle that struck the referee after local players Guilherme Siqueira and Moises Hurtado were sent off for protesting. Granada could now face an investigation into the alleged incidents.

Real Mallorca ensured Levante dropped out of the top six and moved into the European spots themselves after beating the Valencia-based side 1-0 at the Iberostar Stadium, Tomas Pina’s 52nd minute strike enough for the Islanders to draw level on points with their opponents.

Osasuna are only one point behind both of them after a 1-0 victory over Real Sociedad with a goal from Ibrahima Balde, while Athletic Bilbao and Getafe are out of the running for Europe following a scoreless draw at San Mames.

Espanyol will also miss out having slumped to 15th place with a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Barcelona on an emotional night at the Camp Nou. Barca boss Pep Guardiola said goodbye in his final home game with club following his decision to resign at the end of the season, and it was perhaps fitting that Lionel Messi extended the record books further with all four goals, two of them from the penalty spot.

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