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Camacho comes of age as Atletico sense Champions League

SoccerNews in La Liga 3 May 2008

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Atletico Madrid heaped the pressure on their Champions League rivals with a 3-0 home victory over Recreativo Huelva to move five points clear of fifth-placed Racing Santander.

Promising 18-year-old midfielder Ignacio Camacho scored a rare brace and Kun Aguero was also on target as Atletico won for only the second time in six games.

Aguero's goals have been a key factor behind Atletico's push for fourth and the Argentine now has 18 for the season.

Atletico coach Javier Aguirre was delighted and saluted the mature performance of teenager Camacho.

“We needed a victory like this and the three points,” said Atletico coach Javier Aguirre.

“I don't like to single out individuals for praise but Ignacio deserves it as he is a young man who had a good all-round game. He continues to make the step up from the juniors.”

Atletico have not graced the Champions League since the 1996/97 season but they are firm favourites to secure the final berth with three games left.

Racing can close back to within two points with a win over Real Murcia on Sunday while Sevilla need to beat Valladolid to move three points behind the capital club.

For Recreativo it was a missed opportunity to enhance their chances of survival and they lie two points above the drop.

Later Real Zaragoza entertain Deportivo La Coruna with both sides in need of the points for different reasons.

Third from bottom Zaragoza can pull themselves out of the bottom three with victory while Depor can move level on points with Sevilla as they make a late surge for the final UEFA Cup spot.

Real Madrid are expected to be crowned champions on Sunday and a win at Osasuna will secure a 31st championship.

Real must at least match Villarreal's result against Getafe to take the crown otherwise they could wrap the title up on Wednesday in the mouthwatering home match against Barcelona.

“Our goal is to not lose any match from now to the end of the season,” said Real coach Bernd Schuster.

Barcelona, who will have to applaud Real as champions in front of their own fans, are recovering from their Champions League semi-final heartbreak to Manchester United as they challenge Villarreal for second place.

Frank Rijkaard's team host Valencia on Sunday trying to close the four-point gap on Villarreal and reclaim direct qualification for next season's Champions League.

“We have fought and done everything in our power but we've fallen short this season,” admitted Rijkaard. “Now we have to finish the season in the best possible way.”

Rijkaard's future remains unclear with Barca old boys Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Michael Laudrup being tipped to replace him.

Kings Cup victors Valencia are just four points clear of relegation so will be fired up at Camp Nou.

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