Vicente Rodríguez and Rubén Baraja collected the goals as Valencia CF prevailed 2-0 against Sevilla FC at the Sánchez Pizjuán on Sunday night, securing the sixth Primera División title of their history.
Ahead of schedule
Second-placed Real Madrid CF’s surprise 3-2 defeat at the hands of RCD Mallorca on Saturday meant Los Che could claim the title ahead of schedule and Rafael Benítez’s team, who face Olympique de Marseille in the UEFA Cup final on 19 May in Gothenburg, took the chance at the earliest opportunity, going seven points clear at the top of the standings with two games of the season to go.
Vicente gave his team the lead in the eleventh minute, racing clear after a great touch from Xisco and beating goalkeeper Esteban at the near post. Xisco was also instrumental in the second goal, feeding for substitute Baraja to drill in at the death.
Fourth-placed RC Deportivo La Coruña, who were deprived a place in the UEFA Champions League final last week by FC Porto, went down 2-0 on their travels to relegation-threatened RCD Espanyol. Mauricio Pochettino and Iván de la Peña scored in each half to ensure the Catalan side went one point clear of the relegation zone, ahead of 17th-placed RC Celta de Vigo despite the Galician team’s 1-0 defeat of FC Barcelona on Saturday.
Fernando Sales struck twice to ensure that penultimate-placed Real Valladolid CF collected a point from a 2-2 home draw against Real Sociedad de Fútbol. The striker produced the goods when it mattered after the Basque team took the lead on two occasions, once through Igor Gabilondo and again through Nihat Kahveci on the cusp of half-time. Bottom team Real Murcia CF, whose relegation to the second division was confirmed a fortnight ago, fell 1-0 at Málaga CF.
Atlético de Madrid, in sixth, were denied a precious away victory against Real Racing Club Santander, which have would have simplified their hunt for a UEFA Cup berth, by a last-minute goal from Omri Afek in a 2-2 draw. Athletic Club Bilbao, a point ahead in fifth, were also unable to consolidate their claims for a spot in the competition following a 1-1 at home against Albacete Balompié.
Seventh-placed Villarreal CF made the most of the slip-ups, giving themselves a chance of reaching European competition for the second succesive year thanks to a 1-0 defeat of Real Betis Balompié. A last-minute goal from Rubio Alvaro, meanwhile, allowed Real Zaragoza to edge out CA Osasuna 1-0.
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