Real & Atletico warm up for European finals with Liga wins
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid warmed up for their European finals by winning in the Spanish league on Saturday.
Madrid didn’t need resting forward Cristiano Ronaldo to crush Celta Vigo 6-0 at home in its second-to-last match before the Champions League final against Liverpool.
Atletico also won at crosstown rival Getafe 1-0 just four days before it plays Marseille for the Europa League crown.
RONALDO RESTS IN ROUT
Manager Zinedine Zidane left Ronaldo off his squad a week after a right ankle injury caused Madrid’s star to be substituted last weekend at Liga champion Barcelona.
Gareth Bale led the way without him, scoring the opening two goals.
Francisco “Isco” Alarcon, little-used defender Achraf Hakimi, and Toni Kroos added on, along with an own goal by Celta’s Sergi Gomez, to ease to the big win.
Bale’s second goal was a beauty. The Wales winger raced almost half the pitch to reel in a long pass near the endline, where he used one touch to ditch a defender before curling in a strike from a tight angle.
Madrid plays Villarreal in the final round of the Liga before the Champions League final on May 26 in Kiev.
“This match was important to finish the season at home and prepare for what is to come,” Zidane said. “I am happy for (Bale’s) match and for his goals. It means that we are all ready for the final.”
OBLAK ENSURES WIN
At Getafe, Atletico coach Diego Simeone played what could likely be his starting 11 for the Europa League final in Lyon.
The only tweak to Simeone’s standard 4-4-2, was shifting Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion into a playmaking position behind Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa.
Griezmann found Koke with a pass for the midfielder to fire in the game’s only goal in the eighth minute.
Goalkeeper Jan Olbak ensured the victory when he saved a penalty by Faycal Fajr in the 78th after Diego Godin fouled Angel Rodriguez in the area.
“We don’t know how to compete any other way,” Simeone said about his decision not to rest his top players. “We believed that the best thing to do was to continue down the path we have chosen. Going game to game, taking care of a difficult match against a competitive opponent.”
Atletico maintained its hold on second place in the league.
SEVILLA & VILLARREAL TO EUROPA
Villarreal and Sevilla clinched Europa League berths for next season.
Villarreal claimed one of the three spots after routing relegated Deportivo La Coruna 4-2 on the road.
Sevilla also earned a berth after drawing at Real Betis 2-2 and Getafe’s loss.
Betis already ensured a finish among the fifth-to-seventh placed teams needed to go to the Europa League.
Real Sociedad beat Leganes 3-2 in the final home match for Xabi Prieto, who will retire this summer after playing all 15 seasons of his career with the Basque club.
Sociedad’s players wore shirts that included an image of Prieto in the center of the club’s badge to honor his 500-plus appearances.
“It has been amazing, I’d say a bit too much, but I am very grateful to the club for this detail,” Prieto said.
In other matches, Valencia won at Girona 1-0, Alaves beat Athletic Bilbao 3-1, and Eibar edged Las Palmas 1-0.