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Madrid loses 3-1 against Mallorca

RUNNER-UP Real Madrid continued its disappointing end to the Spanish league season with a 3-1 loss against Mallorca yesterday in its final home game.

Gonzalo Higuain opened the scoring for the home team with his 21st goal of the season, only for Juan Arango, Cleber Santana and Alhassane Keita to reply for Mallorca and inflict Madrid's fourth straight defeat.

The match, played before a comparatively sparse crowd at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, provided Madrid fans with the chance to bid farewell to coach Juande Ramos and defender Fabio Cannavaro. Ramos is nearing the end of his contract, while the Italian is to rejoin Juventus in the offseason after three years at Madrid.

After the final whistle, Cannavaro threw his Madrid shirt to supporters behind one of the goals and then made a lap of honor while being applauded by his teammates.

Higuain, making his 100th appearance in all competitions for Madrid, headed powerfully home from Rafael van der Vaart's floated free kick from the left in the 20th minute.

Midfielder Arango scored Mallorca's equalizer, firing past goalkeeper Iker Casillas six minutes later following a burst past the Madrid defense by striker Aritz Aduriz.

Three minutes after Cannavaro's 56th-minute replacement, midfielder Santana scored a spectacular goal, bursting past a series of Madrid players before delivering a floated shot over Casillas.

Keita, who had replaced Aduriz three minutes earlier, delivered a rising shot past Casillas for Mallorca's third in the 71st minute. The goal, the 15th Madrid has conceded in four games, provoked an outburst of whistling from its annoyed supporters.

Ramos' last game in charge is at lowly Osasuna next weekend, after which Florentino Perez is expected to make his return to the presidency and begin remodeling the club. Sporting director Predrag Mijatovic left Madrid on Wednesday.

Mallorca remain ninth with 51 points.

With one game remaining, champions Barcelona has a league record tally of 86 points. Madrid have 78, 11 more than Sevilla. Atletico Madrid followed with 64, Villarreal 62 and Valencia 59.

On Saturday, Barcelona lost 1-0 against lowly Osasuna, four days before it plays Manchester United in the Champions League final.

Sevilla ensured a third-place finish by beating Deportivo La Coruna 1-0, while Recreativo Huelva and Numancia became the first teams to be relegated after each losing 1-0 to Racing Santander and Getafe respectively.

Other results were: Athletic Bilbao 1, Atletico Madrid 4; Villarreal 3, Valencia 1; Valladolid 1, Sporting Gijon 2; Almeria 0, Espanyol 3; and Malaga 1, Real Betis 1.


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