Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Phil Ball in Spain

I can't quite remember when it began, but final days haven't always been like this. Watching the summing up of the final day on Spain's La Sexta channel on Sunday evening, with the programme switching giddily from ground to ground, you'd have been forgiven for not knowing who had just won the league title and who had just saved themselves from the gallows, pardoned by a sweating messenger at the eleventh hour. But such are the stakes now. Zaragoza's justifiable delight at remaining in the top-flight after trailing the rest by 12 points at one stage resulted in scenes in Getafe resembling a Champions League victory. At Vallecas, where both Rayo Vallecano and Granada both appeared to be relegated as the 88th minute ticked by, Radamel Falcao - the man of the week - scored for Atletico at Villarreal, and two minutes later the veteran Raul Tamudo, historically a specialist on these occasions, scored for Rayo and sent Villarreal back to the Segunda Division, from whence they came in the 1999-2000 season. In many ways, it was the most shocking of the events from a predictably dramatic afternoon, and most of it happened in Madrid.

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