MADRID (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.
Gareth Bale scored two fine goals in what could be his last appearance at the Santiago Bernabeu as Real Madrid thumped Celta Vigo 6-0 in their last home game of the season.
Atletico are second in the standings on 78 points, three ahead of Real Madrid with one game left and Atletico’s superior head-to-head record means they finish above their neighbours 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.
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.
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 good 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.
“We wanted to respect La Liga as well always do, we don’t know how to compete in any other way,” said Atletico coach Simeone, explaining why he had fielded such a strong side so close to the Europa League final.
“The best thing for us was to follow the same path as always against a great team.”
Bale struck the first goal of Real’s thrashing of Celta with a surging run forward and low finish.
The Wales forward doubled his side’s lead by cutting inside near the corner flag and sending a sweeping finish into the far corner.
Strikes from Isco, Achraf Hakimi, Toni Kroos, an own goal by Celta defender Sergi Gomez completed the drubbing for Real, who were without Cristiano Ronaldo due to an ankle injury and rested captain Sergio Ramos ahead of the Champions League final against Liverpool on May 26.
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 soon after Kjaer’s strike to 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
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