Real Madrid earned a fifth consecutive home win by beating Villarreal 3-2 in an open and entertaining game on Sunday in front of their lowest crowd for a league fixture this season.
Madrid got off to an ideal start when Mariano Diaz netted in the second minute after teenager Brahim Diaz had chased down Santi Cazorla but Villarreal hit back in the 11th when Gerard Moreno slammed the ball inside the near post from outside the area after Real midfielder Casemiro was dispossessed.
Madrid, got themselves back in front shortly before halftime when defender Jesus Vallejo stuck the ball into an empty net after a deflected shot from Marcelo, while Mariano struck again early in the second half to stretch his side’s advantage.
Villarreal continued to threaten and after they missed several chances Jaume Costa pulled a goal back in stoppage time, while defender Xavier Quintilla had an opportunity to level in the final seconds of the game but missed the target.
As a disappointing season for Madrid winds to a close, the encounter at the Bernabeu was played in front of only 46,294 fans, in a stadium that holds over 80,000.
Madrid are third in the standings on 68 points after 36 games and still have an outside chance of catching second-placed Atletico Madrid who have 74 after losing at Espanyol on Saturday.
Champions Barcelona have 83 points after losing 2-0 at Celta Vigo.
Getafe close in on Champions League place after seeing off Girona
Getafe edged nearer Champions League qualification for the first time with a 2-0 win at home to struggling Girona in La Liga thanks to goals from strikers Jorge Molina and Angel Rodriguez in either half on Sunday.
The victory saw the unfashionable Madrid club tighten their grip on the coveted fourth spot in the table by moving on to 58 points after 36 games, three points clear of nearest challengers Sevilla, who lost to Leganes on Friday.
They are six points ahead of sixth-placed Valencia, who visit Huesca later on Sunday.
Girona, who finished the game with 10 men, later sank into the relegation zone after Real Valladolid beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 at home later on Sunday, leapfrogging the Catalan side to take 17th spot on 38 points to Girona’s 37.
Getafe broke the deadlock in the 16th minute after a misplaced pass from Girona defender Bernardo invited a counter-attack and 37-year-old Molina fired into the bottom corner to score his 14th goal of the season.
Getafe coach Jose Bordalas had to watch from the stands as he was serving a touchline ban for insulting the referee in his side’s 2-1 defeat at Real Sociedad which had threatened to derail their hopes of making the top four.
Girona’s Borja Garcia was sent off in the 70th minute for dissent and Getafe made the most of their advantage when substitute Angel Rodriguez doubled the lead in the 77th, holding off two defenders before arrowing his finish into the net.
Huesca relegated after being thrashed 6-2 by Valencia
Huesca were relegated from La Liga on Sunday after they were hammered 6-2 by a rampant Valencia, who scored five times during a ruthless first-half blitz.
Huesca, who were promoted to La Liga for the first time last year, are bottom of the standings on 30 points after 36 games and became the second team to be relegated after 19th-placed Rayo Vallecano also went down this weekend.
Valencia kept alive their chances of grabbing the fourth Champions League spot by leapfrogging Sevilla into fifth place. They are on 55 points after 36 games and are three behind fourth-placed Getafe.
Valencia went into the game after a disappointing 3-1 defeat at Arsenal in their Europa League semi-final first leg but they got off to the perfect start against Huesca when Daniel Wass blasted into the net in the second minute.
Strikers Rodrigo Moreno and Santi Mina each netted in the space of four minutes to make it 3-0.
Mina struck again and Rodrigo looked set to get his second after a woeful back-pass from a Huesca defender but Xabier Etxeita scored an own goal instead as his attempt to slide tackle the Spain forward went wrong, making it 5-0 at halftime.
Rodrigo soon found his second goal soon after the interval by finishing off a slick team move but Huesca gave their supporters some respite when Gonzalo Melero scored in the 66th minute.
Alex Gallar got another goal back by scoring from the penalty spot in added time and Huesca’s fans gave their side a rousing reception when the final whistle confirmed their relegation, while many of their players collapsed to the ground in disappointment.