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Atletico pips Villarreal to Champions League spot

DIEGO Forlan scored his 32nd Spanish Primera Liga goal of the season to help Atletico Madrid secure a place in Champions League qualifying with a 3-0 win over visiting Almeria on Saturday.

Abel Resino's side had needed only a draw to fight off the challenge from fifth-placed Villarreal, which won 3-2 at Real Mallorca.

Champion Barcelona, runner-up Real Madrid and Sevilla had already secured the three automatic places in Europe's elite club competition.

Barcelona closed out its treble-winning season with a 1-1 draw at Deportivo Coruna, after Samuel Eto'o grabbed a late equalizer for his 30th goal of the campaign.

Villarreal will play in the Europa League, which replaces the UEFA Cup from next term.

It will be joined by Valencia, which ended sixth thanks to David Villa's 27th and 28th goals of the season in a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao.

Deportivo finished seventh, four points behind Valencia.

Forlan's goal, a long-range effort, added to strikes from Sergio Aguero and Raul Garcia to seal a sixth consecutive win for Atletico and the Uruguayan striker is almost certain to win a second European Golden Shoe award.

The final day of the season later yesterday starts with Osasuna, Sporting Gijon, Real Betis, Getafe and Real Valladolid separated by two points and scrapping to avoid the one remaining relegation place.

Recreativo Huelva and Numancia have already been relegated.


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