MADRID, May 12 (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid clinched second spot in La Liga and ensured they will finish above Real Madrid for the first time in four years after winning 1-0 at Getafe on Saturday as Villarreal sealed an automatic Europa League spot by beating Deportivo La Coruna 4-2.
Real Betis drew an exciting local derby with Sevilla 2-2 to a Europa League place and they will finish above their city rivals for the first time in five seasons, although the point assured Sevilla of seventh spot and a playoff berth for Europe’s secondary competition.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone fielded a full-strength team against neighbours Getafe despite playing the Europa League final against Olympique de Marseille next Wednesday and his side took the lead in the eighth minute when midfielder Koke arrowed the ball into the bottom corner from inside the area.
Getafe were awarded a penalty late in the second half but Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak guessed right and beat away Moroccan midfielder Faycal Fajr’s spot-kick to preserve the visiting side’s lead.
The Slovenian made another impressive save in stoppage-time, tipping a header over the crossbar to ensuring Getafe missed out on seventh place to Sevilla, denying them a return to Europe for the first time in a decade.
Atletico are second in the standings on 78 points, six ahead of Real Madrid who host Celta Vigo later on Saturday. Atletico’s superior head-to-head record means they finish above Real for the first time since winning the title in 2014.
Villarreal are fifth on 60, Betis sixth on 60 and Sevilla seventh on 55, three above Getafe and with a better head-to-head record than the Madrid side.
Champions Barcelona, on 90 points, visit Levante on Sunday.
Betis took the lead at home to fierce rivals Sevilla when defender Marc Bartra headed home from a free kick but the visiting side, who beat Real Madrid 3-2 on Wednesday, turned things around after the break with goals from Wissam ben Yedder and Simon Kjaer.
Betis striker Loren bundled the ball in down the other end two minutes after Kjaer’s strike to lift the home fans again and ensure his side will not have to play three playoff rounds to get into the Europa League.
Villarreal raced into a 3-0 lead in the first half at relegated Deportivo but it was cut by two goals before Russia international Denis Cheryshev struck in stoppage-time to give them a 4-2 win. (Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond)