Espanyol bid farewell to their Montjuic stadium in style with captain Raul Tamudo scoring a hat-trick in a 3-0 win over 10-man Malaga on Sunday.
Tamudo, the club’s all-time top-scorer and an icon after spending his entire career at Espanyol, scored twice in the first half and completed his treble with a 56th minute penalty to give the Montjuic the perfect send-off.
Espanyol fans probably thought they would be struggling to fill their new Cornella-El Prat stadium in the second division but the club produced a sensational late run to beat the drop.
With 26 games gone Espanyol were bottom of the table, seven points from safety, but Argentine coach Mauricio Pochettino turned things around and an incredible run saw the club win eight out of the final ten games.
Promoted Malaga, reduced to ten men after the sending off of Weligton on 54 minutes, finish a respectable eighth and can be proud of a season when they knocked on Europe’s door, briefly flirting with the Champions League spots.
In Sunday’s other early match Sevilla defeated relegated Numancia 2-0 in a game with little at stake.
Sevilla already had a Champions League spot wrapped up before the game and coach Manolo Jimenez tested fringe players with next season in mind.
Jimenez was recently rewarded with a contract extension until 2010 after getting Sevilla into the Champions League with third place and now has the task of trying to close the gap on the top two of Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Numancia prepare for life in the second division with the highlight of their campaign the memories of beating treble winners Barcelona 1-0 in Soria on the opening day of the season.
Later on Sunday five teams fight to stay in the division in a tense relegation finale.
Numancia and Recreativo Huelva are already down leaving one unwanted spot left to fill.
Osasuna currently occupy third from bottom and must defeat Real Madrid, who have lost their last four games, in Pamplona to guarantee their safety.
Sporting Gijon are level on 40 points with Osasuna and face already relegated Recreativo at home.
Real Betis, a point above the drop, host a freefalling Valladolid in Sevilla with both teams capable of going down.
Getafe, level on points with Betis, are at Racing Santander needing a win to ensure their survival.
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