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Atletico de Madrid confirm return to Europe's elite

12 May 2008 09:49

Club Atlético de Madrid sealed the final UEFA Champions League qualifying spot in Spain after a 1-0 win against RC Deportivo La Coruña kept them three points clear of Sevilla FC – who defeated local rivals Real Betis Balompié – with one game remaining.

With Atlético sporting a superior head-to-head record over fifth-placed Sevilla, they are now certain of their first appearance in Europe's premier club competition since the 1996/97 edition. Diego Forlán got the game's only goal at the Estadio Vicente Calderón on the stroke of half-time. Sevilla, meanwhile, won 2-0 with goals from Luis Fabiano (33) and Federico Fazio six minutes after the break.

Fourth-placed Atlético are now level on points with FC Barcelona after the Catalan side threw away a two-goal lead at the Camp Nou to lose 3-2 against RCD Mallorca. Thierry Henry gave the home side a 16th-minute lead and Samuel Eto'o doubled that advantage eleven minutes after half-time. However, goals from Borja Valero and Pierre Webo drew the visitors level and Daniel Güiza gave the islanders the three points in the last minute.

Towards the bottom of the table wins for RC Recreativo de Huelva at UD Almería (2-0) and CA Osasuna over Real Murcia CF (2-1) mean that Real Zaragoza go into the season's final set of fixtures in the bottom three after a 2-2 home draw with champions Real Madrid CF. The home side took a 19th-minute lead through Ricardo Oliveira after a flowing move but Madrid hit back through Ruud van Nistelrooy eight minutes later before taking a late lead courtesy of Robinho (77). Zaragoza rescued a deserved point, though, after Sergio Fernández struck with four minutes remaining.

Elsewhere, Valencia CF ensured they would be playing Primera División football next year with a 5-1 win at Levante UD, David Villa scoring a hat-trick. Second-placed Villarreal CF defeated RCD Espanyol 2-0 while there were goalless draws between Real Valladolid CF and Getafe CF and Athletic Club Bilbao and Real Racing Club Santander.

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Primera División table

# Team MP D P
2 3 +5 7
3 3 +3 7
4 3 +2 7
5 3 +2 5
6 3 +1 5

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