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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May, 11, 2008

La Liga: Atletico secure Champions League spot

MADRID, May 11 (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid secured a place in the Champions League qualifiers on Sunday after a goal from Diego Forlan earned them a 1-0 win over Deportivo Coruna and ensured they could finish no lower than fourth in the table.

The Uruguayan striker grabbed the winner when he fired a first-time shot under the keeper at the near post after Maxi Rodriguez had cut the ball back from the byline on the stroke of halftime.

Atletico's last appearance in the Champions League was in the 1996-97 season when they reached the quarter-finals.

Barcelona, who were thumped 4-1 by arch-rivals Real Madrid in midweek, suffered yet another humiliating defeat when they surrendered a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at home to Real Mallorca in Frank Rijkaard's last game at the Nou Camp.

Mallorca striker Dani Guiza scored his 26th goal of the season to secure the islanders a stoppage-time win and spark a new round of protests from the discontented Barca fans.

Atletico are now level on 64 points with Barca, but are in fourth because the Catalans have a better record in head-to-heads.

Sevilla, who won 2-0 away at city rivals Real Betis, are in fifth three points further back but cannot overtake either Barca or Atletico although they are guaranteed a place in the UEFA Cup.

Champions Real Madrid were held to a 2-2 draw at Real Zaragoza who dropped into the relegation zone after fellow strugglers Osasuna and Recreativo Huelva both managed to notch up priceless victories.

Osasuna beat relegated Real Murcia 2-1 at home and Recreativo won 2-0 at Almeria.

Zaragoza took an early lead through Brazilian striker Ricardo Oliveira, but Real hit back with goals from Ruud van Nistelrooy and Robinho to go 2-1 up with 13 minutes to go.

But a rare goal from centre-back Sergio earned Zaragoza a draw that boosted their hopes of survival.

With one game to go Zaragoza, Osasuna, Recreativo and Valladolid can all still go down.

Zaragoza occupy the final relegation spot on 42 points, one behind Osasuna and Recreativo and two adrift of Valladolid.

Recre host Valladolid in the final game of the season, Zaragoza travel to Mallorca and Osasuna are away to Racing. Valencia ensured their survival with a 5-1 thrashing of relegated neighbours Levante, featuring a hat-trick from Spain striker David Villa, while Getafe's 0-0 draw against Valladolid was enough to keep them up.

Barcelona were jeered on to the pitch following their crushing defeat at the Bernabeu, but they looked to be heading for a comfortable win after goals from Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto'o put them 2-0 up 10 minutes into the second half.

But Mallorca pulled one back when Borja Valero beat Jose Manuel Pinto with a deflected shot and the islanders equalised a few minutes later when striker Pierre Webo dinked a shot into the ground and over the keeper's head.

Primera Liga leading scorer Guiza grabbed the win with his 94th-minute strike and the Barca fans reacted angrily with further protests and calls for the resignation of club president Joan Laporta.

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