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La Liga Round 34 results: Atletico Madrid secure Champions League qualification
Los Colchoneros' draw against Deportivo La Coruna earns at least a fourth place finish in La Liga, meanwhile there were vital wins for Zaragoza, Granada and Sevilla
By Martin Macdonald
A late strike from Iago Aspas saw Celta Vigo move within a point of escaping the relegation zone as Abel Resino's outfit drew 1-1 with Athletic Bilbao at Balaidos.
The visitors made the better start, and should have taken the lead early doors when Ander Iturraspe got on the end of Markel Susaeta's corner to bullet a header at goal, but his attempt crashed off the crossbar.
Celta grew into the game thereafter, though, and were only kept at bay by a string of superb saves from goalkeeper, Gorka Iraizoz.
Despite dominating the majority of the first half, the hosts found themselves behind just before the break when Athletic took the lead against the run of play.
Aritz Aduriz stabbed a pass through the middle for Oscar De Marcos, who showed composure to lift the ball high into the net over the oncoming Javi Varas.
The Basques were under the cosh in the second half, but came within inches of scoring against the run of play again when Ibai Gomez rifled a shot at goal that cannoned off the woodwork.
Celta kept plucking away, though, and eventually found their deserved equaliser four minutes from time when Aspas lashed a left-footed strike into the bottom left corner from the edge of the area, earning an invaluable point for his side.
VALENCIA 4-0 OSASUNA
Valencia moved three points clear of Malaga in the Spanish Primera Division with a comprehensive 4-0 victory over relegation candidates, Osasuna, on Saturday afternoon.
The majority of the first half was a relative non-event, but the game burst into life with six minutes remaining before the break.
Jonas struck at goal from the edge of the box and goalkeeper Andres Fernandez could only manage to fumble the shot back into play, where the predatory Robert Soldado coolly finished.
Ricardo Costa doubled the lead a couple of minutes later when he got on the end of Tino Costa's free kick to nod home past Fernandez.
Osasuna improved slightly after the break, but they capitulated around the hour mark when they went a man down and another goal down.
Javi Arribas saw red for hauling Soldado to the floor when the striker was through on goal, and Ever Banega terrifically curled home the resulting free kick.
More misery was heaped on the visitors in the latter stages when David Timor was shown a second yellow card and was subsequently sent off, and Jonas tucked away a penalty kick to complete the emphatic win for Valencia.
GRANADA 1-0 MALAGA
Granada's survival hopes were given a boost on Saturday as they ran out narrow 1-0 winners over Malaga thanks to a solitary strike from Odion Ighalo.
The home side were coming off a vital win against Espanyol last week, and the confidence looked to be flowing as they threatened from the off.
Willy Caballero kept Malaga in it with a string of impressive saves, most notably tipping Nolito's strike from the edge of the box round the post.
Lucas Alcaraz's outfit kept pressing ahead though, and inevitably took the lead on the half-hour mark through Ighalo. Yacine Brahimi burst down the right-hand side and clipped a corner to the front post, and the Nigerian was on hand to divert the ball into the far corner.
Los Boquerones improved after half-time, though, and were unlucky not to equalise in the dying minutes when Vitorino Antunes crossed from deep into the box and the ball bounced off the bar.
Granada remained solid at the back to squeeze out an important victory.
DEPORTIVO 0-0 ATLETICO MADRID
Atletico Madrid confirmed their Champions League status for next season by securing a point in a lacklustre 0-0 draw with Deportivo at the Riazor.
There was certainly energy present from both sides, but the majority of the match was extremely bereft of quality in the final third.
The only real chance for either side in the opening 45 minutes came for los Colchoneros. Raul Garcia floated a ball into the box and it fell to Diego Godin, who smashed a shot at goal from 10 yards out, but Ze Castro was on hand to make a terrific block.
Depor will feel aggrieved not to have been awarded a penalty in both halves. Miranda appeared to trip up Bruno Gama and the ball looked to bounce off the hand of Filipe Luis inside the box, but the official waved play on for both incidents.
Gabi came within inches of stealing the victory for Diego Simeone's men with 10 minutes remaining when he tried his luck with a 30-yard strike, but it clipped the top of the crossbar as both sides settled for a point.
MALLORCA 1-1 LEVANTE
Mallorca remain rooted to the bottom of La Liga after only managing a point in a 1-1 draw with Levante on Sunday morning.
The Islanders made a bright start to the match, and opened the scoring after just seven minutes.
Victor Casadesus slid a pass down the inside-right channel for Tomer Hemed, who ran beyond the defence and squeezed a shot past Keylor Navas at the near post.
Levante could only muster two shots on goal throughout the entire match, and it was their second which proved vital.
Pedro Rios galloped down the right wing and teased a cross to the back post, where Robert Acquafresca nodded in from a few yards out.
Gregorio Manzano's men showed more attacking ambition than Levante in the remaining minutes, but they were unable to capitalise on their dominance, and had to settle for a point.
ZARAGOZA 3-0 RAYO
Real Zaragoza registered consecutive victories for the first time in La Liga this season on Sunday afternoon as they recorded a comfortable 3-0 win over Rayo.
The Blanquillos earned their first win in 15 games last week against Mallorca, and they continued their good form as they were the best outfit from the first whistle.
It took them 26 minutes to open the scoring. Abraham Minero's strike struck the hand of Jordi Amat inside the box and Apono dispatched the resulting penalty.
They doubled their lead five minutes into the second period when Rodri netted the rebound from Helder Postiga's parried header.
The Portuguese was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet himself in added time when once again he rose highest in the box to power a header at goal, but his attempt bounced off the frame of the goal.
However, the win was wrapped up in the last minute when Apono fired a strike into the corner from the edge of the box, confirming the second win in two games for Manolo Jimenez's men.
SEVILLA 3-0 ESPANYOL
Sevilla kept their Europa League hopes alive with a comfortable 3-0 win over Espanyol at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Sunday evening.
It was a first-half blitz from the hosts that sealed the win, and they got off to the perfect start when they netted with 10 minutes on the clock. Jesus Navas flashed a cross into the box and the ball bounced off the unlucky Joan Capdevilla for an own goal.
They doubled their lead just eight minutes later when Andujar Coke linked up with Navas before smashing a strike into the top left corner from the right of the box.
The match was all but over four minutes later when Alvaro Negredo received a pass from Ivan Rakitic before slotting home.
Los Rojiblancos now are now just three points behind Betis and the last European spot in La Liga, but Pepe Mel's men have a game in hand against Barcelona at Camp Nou on Sunday evening.
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