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Valencia clinch last Champions League place on La Liga final weekend

Getafe, Sevilla and Espanyol will play Europa League football next season.

Carlos Soler: scored Valencia's opener (file photo).
Carlos Soler: scored Valencia's opener (file photo).
Image: Carlos Sanchez Martinez

VALENCIA HELD THEIR nerve to secure La Liga’s last Champions League place on Saturday as a 2-0 victory over Real Valladolid ended Getafe and Sevilla’s hopes of snatching fourth.

Getafe had to better Valencia’s result as they faced Villarreal, while Sevilla needed beat Athletic Bilbao and hope both Getafe and Valencia lost.

Sevilla held up their side of the bargain by seeing off Bilbao 2-0 but Getafe drew 2-2 and Valencia won, meaning it is Marcelino’s side who reach the Champions League for a second consecutive year.

They sit seven points behind Real Madrid, who play Real Betis at home on Sunday, and 15 adrift of second-placed Atletico, who earlier drew 2-2 away at Levante, with Antoine Griezmann jeered in his final match for the club.

Valencia’s Champions League chances looked slim after they were knocked out of the Europa League by Arsenal two weeks ago and even slimmer when a miserable start to the season left them 15th after 15 games, a scrap for survival more likely than a dash for the top four.

But Marcelino stayed and oversaw the recovery, which could now have a final flourish if they manage to beat a physically and mentally drained Barcelona and win the Copa del Rey on 25 May.

After 11 weeks in the top four, fifth place and the Europa League comes as a disappointment for Getafe, even for a team promoted to the top flight only two seasons ago whose annual wage bill is more than 10 times smaller than Real Madrid’s.

Sevilla qualify for the Europa League too, finishing sixth after Ben Yedder and Munir El Haddadi extinguished Bilbao’s own hopes of European football next season.

Instead, Sevilla are joined by Espanyol, whose fans invaded the pitch when the full-time whistle blew at Cornella, where a 2-0 win over Real Sociedad means the Catalan side clinched seventh.

© – AFP 2019

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