LALIGA: THE BUSINESS END
La Liga 2015/16 summary and results: Barcelona, Real, Atlético
Los Rojiblancos bowed out of the LaLiga title race as Barcelona thumped Espanyol and Real Madrid saw off Valencia. Here's how it unfolded.
On a dramatic penultimate day of the LaLiga season, Diego Simeone's Ciutat de Valencia curse went on as Levante came from behind to defeat Atlético Madrid and scupper Los Rojiblancos' title hopes.
In-form striker Fernando Torres gave Atlético an early advantage against the already-relegated Granotas, collecting Koke's pass to finish coolly past goalkeeper Diego Mariño.
However, Víctor Casadesús levelled for Levante on the half-hour mark, planting a firm header into the corner from Mauricio Cuero's right-wing cross.
And in the final minute of the second 45, Giuseppe Rossi slotted past Atleti custodian Jan Oblak to win it for the hosts, as Simeone's wait for his first victory at the ground with Atleti continues.
With Barcelona beating Espanyol, Rossi's goal spelled the end of Atlético's dreams of winning the league, as they can no longer overhaul the leaders.
For the fourth week in a row, Luis Enrique's men came up with the three points they needed to keep hold of first place and remain in pole position to claim the championship.
Leo Messi curled in a fabulous free-kick to put Barça ahead against their city rivals in the seventh minute, before Ivan Rakitic was unfortunate to see a second ruled out for offside.
But after the break, Luis Suárez was on target twice - LaLiga's top scorer moving to 37 this term - and Rafinha pounced on an error by Espanyol keeper Pau López to make it four.
Suárez then laid the ball across goal for Neymar to tap in a fifth.
At the Bernabéu, meanwhile, Real kept themselves in the hunt for LaLiga as a Cristiano Ronaldo double led them to a 3-2 triumph over Valencia - their 11th win on the trot in the league - to leapfrog Atleti into second.
Cristiano drilled in a first-half opener, which was followed by a strike from Karim Benzema - with offside controversy surrounding the Frenchman's goal.
After half time, Rodrigo Moreno pulled one back for the visitors, only for Cristiano to net again (his 33rd in LaLiga this season) with just under an hour gone in Madrid.
André Gomes then fired in a fine effort from the edge of the area to set up a nervous finish for the home side, while Rodrigo was sent off for dissent late on.
With Real one point behind Barça, a decisive final round in the Spanish top flight is in store next weekend as a now two-horse title race goes down to the wire.
Here's how the action unfolded:
And at the top, here's how the leading three stand after week 37's action: Barcelona 88 pts, Real Madrid 87 pts, Atlético Madrid 85 pts. Diego Simeone's Ciutat de Valencia hoodoo continued as Guiseppe Rossi's late winner ended Atleti's title aspirations and leaves Barça and Real to fight it out for the championship next weekend, with Los Azulgranas at now-safe Granada and their arch rivals travelling to Galicia to face also newly-out-of-danger Deportivo La Coruña. Oooh, the anticipation. Hope you've enjoyed reading and see you next time for the final denouement. Bye!
At the bottom, defeat for Rayo sees them slip into the drop zone as Getafe's draw with Sporting Gijón enables Los Azulones to climb out of the relegation places to 17th. Granada and Depor are both safe after winning. Espanyol are also assured of survival despite being walloped, and Betis, who played out a stalemate at Eibar, cannot now be caught either. Two of Getafe, Rayo and Sporting will join Levante in Segunda División. Further up the table, Sevilla's home loss means the Europa League places will definitely be taken by Celta Vigo and Athletic Club, who exchanged places in fifth and sixth after winning and drawing, respectively.
Elsewhere in LaLiga: Celta 1-0 Málaga, Sevilla 1-4 Granada, Real Sociedad 2-1 Rayo Vallecano, Las Palmas 0-0 Athletic Club, Villarreal 0-2 Deportivo, Eibar 1-1 Real Betis, Getafe 1-1 Sporting.
Peeep! FT around the grounds! Barça thump Espanyol 5-0, Real edge Valencia 3-2, Atlético lose 2-1 - and three become two going into the final day.
Min 90 | Valencia pushing for an equaliser here... one that would crown Barça champions.
Min 89 | Levante with what looks like the winner against Atlético! Guiseppe Rossi coolly finishes low past Oblak. Simeone looks thoroughly miffed in the stands. The top now: Barça 88 pts, Real 87 pts, Atlet 85 pts. Los Rojiblancos waving goodbye to the title. At Sevilla, Granada are now 4-1 ahead as Isaac Cuenca nets.
Min 86 | Danilo has it in the net for Real Madrid... but it's disallowed for a push. Down in Seville, El-Arabi puts Granada 3-1 up from the spot!
Min 82 | Amongst all that action, Valencia's Rodrigo got his marching orders in Madrid. Straight red, seemingly for dissent.
Min 81 | Goals galore at the bottom! Stefan Scepovic equalises for Getafe against Sporting, and Granada go back ahead at Sevilla through Jean-Sylvain Babin! And back at the top, Barça make it five as Neymar taps in from Suárez's ball across goal!
Min 80 | Valencia pull one back again! Andre Gomes with a lovely strike from the edge of the box that flies across Casilla and into the corner! 3-2 to Real. A goal each for Los Che and Levante, and Barça are champions...
Min 78 | Farewell ovation for Álvaro Arbeloa at the Bernabéu as he comes on to replace Cristiano (yes, Zizou has substituted Ronaldo!) The fans unveil a giant Real shirt with Arbeloa's name and number emblazoned on the back, too.
Min 73 | Mariño with a great save to deny Carrasco for Atlético, while Espanyol keeper Pau has an utter mare at the Camp Nou, allowing Rafinha to tap in Barça's fourth! And at the Sánchez Pizjuán, Sevilla equalise against Granada! Diego González gets it! At Ipurua, meanwhile, Sergi Enrich makes it 1-1 for Eibar against Betis.
Min 71 | Casilla with two smart stops at the Bernabéu, where it remains 3-1 to Zinedine Zidane's men. Los Merengues are currently going second. Simeone's Ciutat de Valencia curse looks set to continue...
Min 68 | Rayo pull one back at Anoeta! Real Sociedad lead Paco Jémez's men 2-1. Javi Guerra with the goal for Los Franjirrojos.
Min 65 | The top as its stands: Barça 88 pts, Real 87 pts, Atleti 86 pts. With their title rivals breathing down their necks, Los Azugranas are well on the way to defending top spot for the fourth week running.
Min 64 | Arbeloa warming up for Real... Over at the Ciutat de Valencia, Atlético are still being held by Levante and have conceded a dangerous free-kick... but it's straight down Oblak's gullet.
Min 61 | Real keeper Kiko Casilla with a terrific stop to deny Parejo in the capital, before it's across to the Camp Nou, where Suárez heads Barça 3-0 up on Espanyol! Just the 37 LaLiga goals for the Uruguayan.
Min 57 | Lucas Pérez makes it 2-0 to Deportivo at Villarreal, while at the Bernabéu... it's 3-1 to Real Madrid! Cristiano gets his second, running onto the through-ball to finish across Alves.
Min 55 | Valencia pull one back in Madrid! Raphael Varane's clearance falls right to Rodrigo Moreno arriving in the box, and he buries it past Marcelo on the line! 2-1 to Real.
Min 52 | And at the Camp Nou Luis Suárez grabs league goal number 36 to put Barça 2-0 up on Espanyol. At the Bernabéu, Dani Parejo hits the bar with a free-kick for Valencia.
Min 50 | Alves produces smart near-post stop from Benzema's close-range header at the Bernabéu. Meanwhile, things get worse for Rayo as Real Sociedad double their lead, while Sporting Gijón take the lead over Getafe in the sides' relegation six-pointer at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez.
Peeeep! Second halves back underway! Simeone has sent on Yannick Ferreira Carrasco and Antoine Griezmann as Atlético look to get back ahead at Levante...
Bottom three as it stands: Sporting 36 pts, Rayo 35 pts, Levante 30 pts.
HTs elsewhere in LaLiga: Celta 1-0 Málaga, Sevilla 0-1 Granada, Real Sociedad 1-0 Rayo Vallecano, Las Palmas 0-0 Athletic Club, Villarreal 0-1 Deportivo, Eibar 0-1 Real Betis, Getafe 0-0 Sporting.
Peeep! HT: Barcelona 1-0 Espanyol, Real Madrid 2-0 Valencia, Levante 1-1 Atlético. Top of the table as it stands: Barça 88 pts, Real 87 pts, Atlético 86 pts.
Min 45 | El Arabi with a huge goal for Granada down the bottom - the Andalusians are 1-0 up at Sevilla on the stroke of half time.
Min 42 | Gooal to Real Madrid! Two-nil to Los Blancos! Confusion reigns as Karim Benzema finishes past Alves from close range and is given offside, but having received the ball from a Valencia player is then given on. The Frenchman was offside from Cristiano's cross just previously, though.
Min 37 | Oh. Dear. Valencia are through and have a golden chance to equalise at the Bernabéu, but Paco Alcácer tries to lay it on a plate for Dani Parejo, who misses it, before Joao Cancelo fluffs it at the far post with the goal gaping. Up in the Basque Country, Rubén Casto has put Real Betis 1-0 up on Eibar.
Min 32 | Up in rainy Galicia, Nolito has given Europa League-chasing Celta Vigo the lead over Málaga. And Celta's local rivals Deportivo La Coruña also go ahead at Villarreal, Fayçal Fajr with it. Depor currently safe.
Min 30 | Levante equalise! Casadesús heads Cuero's cross past Oblak and into the top corner! Atleti pegged back, and drop to third as it stands.
Min 26 | Goooooal to Real Madrid! Alves wasn't equal that one from Cristiano! Marcelo feeds the Portuguese, who gets it out of his feet just outside the area and arrows it low and into the corner! Real ahead, but as things stand remain third.
Min 24 | Retiring Las Palmas midfield maestro Juan Carlos Valerón was given a 21st-minute ovation at the Estadio Gran Canaria... And at the Bernabéu there's a chance for Cristiano Ronaldo, but he goes for power and Diego Alves is equal to it!
Min 21 | Still 0-0 at the Bernabéu, where there's not an awful lot to report. Torres' goal for Atlético was his fifth in his last seven in the league, by the way.
Min 19 | Up in San Sebastian, Real Sociedad are 1-0 up on relegation-threatened Rayo Vallecano. Wunderkind Mikel Oyarzabal with the goal.
Min 17 | Top three as it stands: Barcelona 88 pts, Atlético Madrid 88 pts, Real Madrid 85 pts
Min 14 | Over in Valencia, Torres briefly threatens to score a dribble-tastic worldy, but is knocked off it before he can pull the trigger.
Min 11 | Barça have it in the back of the net again as Ivan Rakitic taps in at the back post, but it's ruled out for offside! TV replays suggest it was very tight - so much so that I'm remaining on the fence over whether the Croat was off or not.
Min 8 | Gooooalll for Barcelona! Lionel Messi pings a delightful free-kick into the top corner and Los Azulgranas lead Espanyol! I don't know what was slicker - that strike or his new beard! Barça back top.
Min 5 | Goalless at the Bernabéu and the Camp Nou - where Espanyol's Hernán Pérez has just caught Javier Mascherano with a dreadful challenge.
Min 2 | Atlético take the lead at the Ciutat de Valencia! Fernando Torres with a lovely little dink over the on-rushing Diego Mariño! Los Rojiblancos top as it stands...
Peeep! We are underway across Spain...
Two mins to kick-off | Barcelona are the only side of the top trio who can be crowned champions today. Having seen their title aspirations damaged by late-season home draws with Valencia in the past two years, Real Madrid are hoping lightning (and Diego Alves) doesn't strike thrice. Diego Simeone, meanwhile, is after his first away win over Levante as Atleti boss.
Five mins to kick-off | The dramatis personae of the various matches are making their way onto their respective fields of play. Excited?
The team news has come flooding in!
Real Madrid XI: Kiko Casilla; Danilo, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Casemiro, Kroos, Isco; Lucas Vázquez, Benzema, Cristiano
Valencia XI: Diego Alves; Barragán, Mustafi, Abdennour, Siqueira; Parejo, Javi Fuego, Enzo Pérez, Cancelo; Alcácer, Rodrigo
Barça XI: Ter Stegen; Daniel Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta; Messi, Suárez, Neymar
Espanyol XI: Pau; Javi López, Roco, Duarte, Víctor Álvarez; Cañas; Hernán, Diop, Víctor Sánchez, Asensio; Caicedo
Atlético XI: Oblak, Juanfran, Giménez, Savic, Filipe Luis, Gabi, Augusto, Koke, Saúl, Correa, Torres
Levante XI: Mariño, Pedro López, Medjani, Navarro, Juanfran, Verza, Lerma, Morales, Cuero, Verdú, Casadesús
Crash, bang, wallop... that folks is the sound of the form book being thrown out of the window as we prepare for the penultimate round of games in LaLiga where the form book is ripped up with surprise results the norm.
The race for the title is intense. Barcelona who were cruising to retaining their crown slipping up badly by picking up just one point in 12 in a disastrous month of April (which also saw Luis Enrique's men eliminated from the Champions League), the fall-out has resulted in a pulsating tussle for the title.
Real Madrid are in third place just one point behind the Catalan side and are emotionally in positive shape as they face the outside possibility of a league title they had given up hopes on weeks ago. Zinedie Zidane has overseen the team's qualification for the Milan Champions League final and mutterings coming out from the top floors of the Bernabeu offices suggest the French coach has impressed sufficiently to be given another season on the Madrid bench.
Despite not beating Valencia at home in the past four seasons, Zidane will be confident that the positive tail-wind emanating through the Bernabeu will be enough to see off LaLiga's "Jekyll and Hyde" team. Valencia have been erratic all season and only now under the guidance of third coach during the 2015/16 campaign, Pako Ayesteran have started to play in a measured and composed fashion.
Zidane must do without Keylor Navas, Carvajal and Gareth Bale who are all missing through injury though Cristiano and Benzema are expected to lead the front line with Lucas Vazquez getting the nod in the attacking trio.
The Valencia squad of 19 traveled to Madrid with Jaume and Feghouli being left behind. Andre Gomes being the major doubt for the Valencia boss.
Race for LaLiga
We'll also bring you live updates from around the grounds with all LaLiga games today having a unified kick-off time of 17.00 CET.
For the fourth matchday running,
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