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Sunday June 2 2013
La Liga’s final day drama

Relegation and European matters were finalised on Saturday evening, and Olly Dawes relives the action

The curtain fell on La Liga 2012-13 in typically dramatic fashion. There were Champions League and Europa League places up for grabs, but the main story of the night was the scrap for survival, with Deportivo, Celta Vigo, Real Zaragoza and Real Mallorca involved in a nervous final day.

Whilst the relegation matters were off to a slow start, Valencia's quest to beat Real Sociedad to the fourth Champions League place got off to a great start, as Argentine midfielder Ever Banega's mazy run ended with a great finish from the edge of the box, just as La Real were being held to a 0-0 draw by Deportivo, who needed a win to guarantee survival.

Shortly after Banega's goal, the night burst into life. Celta Vigo, hovering precariously above the trapdoor, grabbed an invaluable lead as Liverpool-bound Iago Aspas jinked his way past a defender before laying the ball back to Nacho Insa, who guided the ball into the top corner and put Celta in pole position to stay afloat.

As news of Insa's goal broke, Mallorca also took the lead. Breaking the offside trap, Alejandro Alfaro coolly slipped the ball underneath the onrushing Jaime to give the Islanders a chance of staying up, but the reality was that with Celta winning, their efforts were in vain.

And just minutes later, the deadlock was broken at Riazor, but not in the way the home crowd were hoping for. Winger Antoine Griezmann put Real in front, pouncing on a loose ball to turn it home and restore the Basque side's hopes of clinching fourth place. Deportivo on the other hand were on the verge of slipping out of La Liga for the second time in the last three seasons.

Back in Mallorca, and Gregorio Manzano’s team saw their lead cancelled out, as goalkeeper Dudu Aouate spilled a shot from Omar straight into the path of Alberto Bueno, who stroked the ball home and severely damaged Mallorca's hopes of survival in the process.

The important games around Spain suffered something of a lull, but again saw an explosion of goals just before the break, starting with Sevilla, as two Alvaro Negredo goals in four minutes gave them a 2-1 lead on the stroke of half time. Negredo, widely considered to be leaving Sevilla this summer, will have given the fans something to remember with a stunning overhead kick, before converting a penalty to take the lead.

Meanwhile, Mallorca's topsy turvy game took another twist, as midfielder Marti smashed a 25 yard half volley into the net and give Los Bermellones the lead once again.

However, half time arrived with Celta Vigo leading, meaning Deportivo, Mallorca and Zaragoza, still 0-0 with Atletico Madrid, were set for relegation, whilst Valencia's first half collapse had handed the initiative to Real Sociedad in the race for fourth place.

The second halves began slowly, but two goals in as many minutes at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan saw the landscape change again. Roberto Soldado equalised for Valencia, only for Negredo to complete his hat-trick to restore their lead. Valencia's defence was split open again, and Negredo was left unmarked at the back post to tap home, leaving Valencia truly facing up to fifth place.

Mallorca did manage to open up a two goal lead against Real Valladolid, as Giovani dos Santos went on a driving run to the edge of the box before slamming a left footed drive into the bottom corner – though it still wouldn't be enough to keep them in La Liga as things stood.

In what may have been the greatest farewell ever, Alvaro Negredo bagged his and Sevilla's fourth goal of the game, again converting from close range after a swift counter attack from Jesus Navas – also rumoured to be leaving – and Ivan Rakitic.

There were two more quickfire goals, this time at Mallorca, where Javi Marquez scored a fine goal from 20 yards out, placing a left footed shot past the despairing dive of Jaime, only for their 4-1 lead to be quickly reduced, as Omar hammered the ball home from six yards out, despite the best efforts of a defender on the line.

One of the quieter sides of the night were Zaragoza – at least until the final 10 minutes. Turkish winger Arda Turan weaved his way through a statuesque defence to fire Atletico ahead, and all but confirm Zaragoza's relegation.

Trailing by two goals, Valencia's hopes of Champions League qualification were resting on a late Deportivo goal, and Roberto Soldado scored again to reduce the arrears by volleying into the roof of the net in the 88th minute. But Valencia's destiny was still not in their own hands.

The final goals of the night were scored in the Zaragoza game, as Helder Postiga levelled the game, only for Diego Costa to strike an injury time double to condemn Zaragoza to the Segunda Division as the bottom team in La Liga.

The whistles were blowing all around Spain, and Celta’s 1-0 win over Espanyol confirmed their status as a Primera Division team in 2013, and a mass pitch invasion ensued at Balaidos, whilst Real Sociedad could celebrate an incredible season with Champions League qualification secured. Valencia's night was disappointing, whilst there was pain and anguish for Mallorca, Deportivo and Zaragoza as their drop into the second tier was confirmed.

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