By Andrew Hall
Samuel Eto'o missed his final chance at equalling Thierry Henry for the ESM Golden Shoe award as FC Barcelona were held at Real Sociedad de Fútbol on Saturday night while runners-up Real Madrid scored a 3-1 win at Real Zaragoza.
Champions Barcelona went into the early evening match with numerous absentees including the suspended Ronaldinho and injured first teamers Deco and Juliano Belletti while goalkeeper Víctor Valdés made way for Albert Jorquera. It showed on the pitch in a lacklustre game where all of the Catalan side's attempts on goal were thwarted by the local team.
Eto'o, who finishes the season on 24 goals - just one short of Europe's top scorer, Arsenal FC's Thierry Henry, tried everything to pull himself level with the Frenchman. During the first half he sent two efforts whistling the wrong side of the post.
Later in the second half, his direct free-kick sizzled just wide of the upright. La Real meanwhile tested Jorquera from distance with José Javier Barkero denied by a brilliant intervention from Barça's number two stopper. Barça finish the season on 84 points and the Basque side in 13th on 47.
Heroes' send off
"I tried but it wasn't to be, that's life and I have no complaints," Eto'o said afterwards. Meanwhile the veterans Valeri Karpin and Bittor Alkiza waved goodbye to the game with their last appearences. La Real coach Jose María Amorrortu said: "Karpin and Alkiza will always be remembered here in San Sebastián."
Also given a warm send off was Zaragoza keeper César Lainez, whose career was terminated by a knee injury. Lainez was overcome by emotion as he waved goodbye ahead of Madrid's 3-1 win at the Romareda. Michael Owen was first to react after Luis García parried on 24 minutes and comfortably slotted from close range. The home team pulled level just before half-time when Óscar González played a neat one-two with David Villa before blasting past Iker Casillas.
Madrid were back in front on 53 minutes when Roberto Carlos fired in a low drive and the victory was completed in extra-time by Ronaldo, who brings his total for the season to 21. Madrid finish second on 80 points while Zaragoza are currently tenth with 50 points.
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