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Spanish challengers fall away

Published: Sunday 9 May 2004, 1.27CET
Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona both lost on Saturday to pave the way for Valencia CF to win the title.

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Published: Sunday 9 May 2004, 1.27CET

Spanish challengers fall away

Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona both lost on Saturday to pave the way for Valencia CF to win the title.

Valencia CF will be crowned champions of Spain tonight if they win at Sevilla FC after Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona both suffered defeats on Saturday.

Waving goodbye
Barcelona effectively waved goodbye to their already slim title chances when they were dealt their first defeat in 18 matches, a 1-0 loss at struggling RC Celta de Vigo, while Madrid's slump continued as they went down 3-2 at home to RCD Mallorca for whom Samuel Eto'o scored twice. Valencia, who are also in the final of the UEFA Cup, have 74 points, Madrid 70 and Barça 69.

Brilliant solo goals
Madrid fell victim to an inspired performance by Eto'o, who scored two brilliant solo goals to help his side to a 3-1 lead at the break. Although Luís Figo pulled a goal back from the penalty spot five minutes after the restart it could not save the champions from a fourth loss in five Primera División games. Mallorca climbed eight points clear of the relegation zone.

Edu winner
Brazilian midfield player Edu struck the winner for Celta when he curled a low shot inside the post from the edge of the area after a neat move two minutes before half-time. Celta should have extended their lead when they were awarded a penalty midway through the second half, only for Victor Valdés to tip Peter Luccin's spot-kick on to a post.

Late drama
Barcelona could have grabbed a draw five minutes from time, but defender Juanfran headed Javier Saviola's goal-bound shot off the line to the relief of the 32,000 Celta fans at the Balaídos. The win lifted Celta out of the relegation zone, but with all their immediate rivals still to play they could end up back in trouble before the weekend is out.

Last updated: 09/05/04 21.29CET

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