First it was Valencia. Then Sevilla. And finally Getafe. Three teams fighting for the coveted final Champions League spot in the Spanish league all lost on Sunday, leaving the race wide open.
Real Madrid joined the losers’ list on Sunday – with Zinedine Zidane’s team defeated 1-0 by struggling Rayo Vallecano – a day after seeing Barcelona clinch its second straight title, and eighth in 11 seasons.
The result practically ended Madrid’s chances of catching Atletico Madrid for second place, meaning it will likely finish outside of the top two in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1973-74. It is nine points behind Atletico with three rounds remaining.
It was Madrid’s fourth away match without a win since Zidane’s return to the helm. The team won all matches at home but is yet to win away from the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
“We can’t play like that, and I’m responsible as well,” Zidane said. “We didn’t do anything. We have to apologize to the fans and to the club.”
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE RACE
In the fight for the final Champions League place, Valencia lost 1-0 to Eibar, Sevilla also lost 1-0 at Girona, and Getafe was defeated 2-1 by Real Sociedad.
Fourth-place Getafe stayed level on points with Sevilla but led on the head-to-head tiebreaker. Sixth-place Valencia was three points back.
Seventh-place Athletic Bilbao, five points behind Getafe and Sevilla, drew 1-1 with eighth-place Alaves on Saturday.
Valencia failed to capitalize on the several chances it created against midtable Eibar and conceded in the third minute of second-half injury time.
It was the second consecutive loss for Valencia after it had won four in a row in all competitions. Eibar had won only one of its last eight matches, and its last away victory dated back to October.
“We failed, but we can’t give up just yet,” Valencia defender Jose Luis Gaya said. “We still have chances.”
Valencia remains in contention for two titles this season. It has reached the Copa del Rey final – against Barcelona on May 25 – and the semifinals of the Europa League against Arsenal.
Sevilla played with a chance to regain fourth place, but a 62nd-minute goal by Portu gave victory to Girona, which had lost six straight and needed the three points to escape the relegation zone.
Getafe couldn’t overcome a slow start at midtable Real Sociedad and wasn’t helped by video decisions.
Sociedad scored its opening goal from the penalty spot after a VAR decision, and the visitors later complained of two alleged penalties in its favor that were not called.
Getafe’s lone goal came a few minutes from the end.
“We knew this match was important because it could have given us some breathing room after the results from earlier in the day,” Getafe goalkeeper David Soria said. “We have three finals in front of us now.”
Rayo picked up its second win in 14 matches with Adrian Embarba’s 23rd-minute goal after a penalty kick awarded by video review, moving above Huesca at the bottom of the standings to be six points from safety.
Huesca earlier earned a 1-1 draw at Villarreal, which stayed in 14th place, five points from the relegation zone.