Farewell to Xavi as La Liga ends
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Valencia fought back twice to earn a Champions League berth with a 3-2 away win that relegated Almeria on a dramatic final day of the Spanish football league Saturday.
Eibar also went down despite beating last-place Cordoba 3-0, while Deportivo La Coruna stayed up after coming from two goals down to draw 2-2 at already crowned champion Barcelona. Lionel Messi had put Barcelona in front with his 42nd and 43rd league goals of the season.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick to lead runner-up Real Madrid to a 7-3 rout of Getafe as the Ballon d’Or holder finished as the league’s top scorer with the outstanding mark of 48 goals. That left him two goals shy of Messi’s milestone from 2012.
Granada were rescued by a 0-0 draw with Atletico Madrid, which finished in third place a year after winning the league title. Sevilla had to settle for a fifth-place finish despite beating ten-man Malaga 3-2. Unai Emery’s side can still reach the Champions League by successfully defending their Europa League title against Dnipro in Warsaw on Wednesday.
Athletic Bilbao are bound for the Europa League along with Sevilla and Villarreal after securing seventh place with a 4-0 rout of Villarreal.
At Camp Nou, Barcelona’s fans paid homage to Xavi Hernandez, who played his last league game after 17 seasons at the club. The midfielder is leaving the club for Qatar this summer, and supports held up an enormous banner that read: “Thanks Xavi, 17 seasons 1998-2015”.
Xavi then received a standing ovation when he was replaced by Andres Iniesta with five minutes remaining. He responded by blowing kisses to the stands before showing some tears in the dugout after taking his club record to 765 appearances.
avi will get one more chance to play at Camp Nou next weekend and add to his club record 23 titles when Barcelona host Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final. Barcelona will then play Juventus for the European Cup in Berlin on June 6.
Elsewhere, Real Sociedad thrashed Rayo Vallecano 4-2, 10-man Celta Vigo rallied to beat Espanyol 3-2, and Elche drew 0-0 at Levante. Eibar manager Gaizka Garitano announced he was stepping down after the Basque club failed to stay in the topflight for a second season.