Atletico Madrid finish fourth, Villarreal fifth, Valencia sixth


Madrid : Atletico Madrid clinched fourth place in the Spanish Liga Saturday with a 3-0 thrashing of midtable Almeria.

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As was in the last season, Atletico now will go into the preliminary round of the Champions League in August.

They needed just a point Saturday to keep ahead of Villarreal but went for a win straight from the start. Sergio Aguero shot them ahead in the 19th minute, Raul Garcia made it 2-0 in the 27th minute with a close-range header.

Diego Forlan completed the rout in the 50th minute with a left-foot drive. The latest goal means that the Uruguayan hitman finishes with 32 goals – two more than Samuel Eto’o of Barcelona – and therefore finishes as top scorer, the same as in 2005.

Atletico finish the season with 67 points, the same number as third-placed Sevilla, who are above them on the Spanish direct results system.

“It was important for us to finish fourth,” said Forlan.

“That is more important than me ending the season as top scorer.”

Villarreal finish fifth with 65 points, after a 3-2 win away to Mallorca, with one goal from Cani and two from Joseba Llorente.

David Villa, meanwhile, said goodbye to Valencia by scoring both goals in the 2-0 home win over Athletic Bilbao. The Euro 2008 top scorer finishes the season in third place in the scorers’ chart, with 28 goals, and will almost certainly be sold by cash-strapped Valencia this summer.

Valencia finish in sixth place, with 62 points, and will go into the new Europa League together with Villarreal.

Deportivo Coruna finished seventh with 58 points after a tame 1-1 draw against “treble” heroes Barcelona.

The Deportivo players gave Barca a guard of hour at the start, in recognition of Wednesday’s Champions League triumph against Manchester United.

Rodolfo Bodipo headed the hosts into the lead in the 31st minute, Eto’o made it 1-1 right at the end.

Barca thus finish with 105 goals, and therefore fail to break the record of 107 established by Real Madrid in 1990.

The tense relegation situation will be decided Sunday, with Osasuna, Sporting Gijon, Betis, Getafe and Valladolid all desperate to avoid going down with already doomed Numancia and Recreativo Huelva.