Spanish champion Real Madrid cap record-setting season
League champion Real Madrid capped a record-setting season of 85 points on Sunday with a 5-2 win over Levante.19 May 2008
MADRID - Spanish league champion Real Madrid capped a record-setting season Sunday with a 5-2 win over Levante.
Ruud van Nistelrooy and Sergio Ramos scored two goals each and Wesley Sneijder added the other as Madrid beat last-placed Levante, which had threatened to skip the match in a strike over unpaid player wages.
Madrid captain Raul Gonzalez, left out of Spain's European Championship squad Saturday, accepted the Spanish champion’s record 31st league trophy - and his sixth in 14 seasons - at the close of the game at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
"The key this year, which has been very important, has been the team," Italy centre back Fabio Cannavaro said.
Van Nistelrooy headed home Ramos' headed flick-on in the 23rd minute and then got a leg out to poke in Robinho's return pass in the 41st despite appearing to be offside. Ramos powerfully headed Jose Maria "Guti" Gutierrez's short cross into goal in the 27th and used his head again in the 78th to score off a Madrid corner.
Sneijder left goalkeeper Manuel Reina with no chance of reaching his free kick as it curled into the top of corner of goal in the 55th.
For Levante, Laurent Courtois got free of Madrid defender Pepe to feed Alexandre Geijo in the box in the 53rd and then again in the 65th.
Both goalkeepers made acrobatic saves early on with Reina denying Robinho with an outstretched arm before third-choice Madrid goalkeeper Jordi Codina got his hand up to Courtois' shot in the 19th.
Madrid won the league with 85 points - the highest winning point total in 11 years. Villarreal finished second with a club-high 77 points after beating Deportivo La Coruna 2-0 with goals from Mattias Fernandez and Guillermo Franco.
Levante's players suspended an indefinite strike called on Saturday despite being owed a reported EUR18 million.
Earlier, Ivan Bolado's late goal gave Racing Santander a 1-0 win over Osasuna and spot in the UEFA Cup - the team's first European place in its 95-year history.
Bolado scored from Mohammed Tchite's centring pass with five minutes left to play to put Racing in sixth place. It joins Sevilla and Copa del Rey champion Valencia in Europe's second-tier club competition.
Zaragoza was relegated to the second division following a 3-2 loss at Mallorca. Chori Castro's injury-time goal made the difference as Mallorca finished seventh and Zaragoza returned to the second division for the first time since the 2002-03 season.
A Zaragoza turnover allowed Pierre Webo to meet Juan Arango's cross from the right in the 75th and striker Dan Guiza took his league-leading goal tally to 27 in the 15th when his deflected shot beat goalkeeper Cesar Sanchez.
Zaragoza, which started the season with a Champions League place in mind, pressed with Miguel Moya denying Pablo Aimar's shot in the 16th.
In the 56th, Ricardo Oliveira capped an impressive buildup by heading in Gabriel Fernandez's short cross to equalise. Oliveira scored again deep into injury time but Zaragoza joined Murcia and Levante in the second division next season.
Heavy rain at Mallorca had delayed the Spanish league's final round of matches.
Javi Guerrero scored three minutes into injury time as Recreativo Huelva drew 1-1 with Valladolid, which got a 41st-minute goal from Joseba Llorente.
Earlier, David Villa scored two goals to help Valencia end a turbulent season with a 3-1 win over Champions League-bound Atletico Madrid.
The Spain striker scored from a solo run in the 54th minute and beat goalkeeper Christian Abbiati in the 40th. Villa's centring pass in the 11th was redirected into goal by Atletico defender Giourkas Seitaridis.
Argentina striker Sergio Aguero scored in the 76th to cap his second season at Atletico with 19 goals.
Also Sunday, Almeria beat Espanyol 3-1 and Real Betis rallied for a 1-1 draw at Getafe. It was possibly Getafe coach Michael Laudrup's last game in charge.
Sevilla beat Athletic Bilbao 4-1 with two goals from Frederic Kanoute and the others from Jesus Navas and Seydou Keita. Aritz Aduriz scored for Atheltic.
Athletic's defeat means Deportivo clinched a place in the Intertoto Cup next season.
Numancia clinched its place in the first division on Sunday. The team returns to the top league for the fourth time since 1999 and first time in three seasons.
On Saturday, FC Barcelona beat Murcia 5-3 to finish third with 67 points - three better than Atletico.
[AP / Expatica]