MADRID - Superb strikes by Cleber Santana and Alhassane Keita powered Real Mallorca to 3-1 comeback win at Real Madrid in a low-key Primera Liga match on Sunday. It was a humiliating end to trophyless Real's home campaign and the players, many of whom may be leaving after next weekend's final match of the season, were booed and whistled by disgruntled fans at the half-empty Bernabeu. Striker Gonzalo Higuain briefly brought the subdued stadium to life in the 20th minute when he rose to nod in Rafael van der Vaart's free kick. The muted celebrations were halted six minutes later when fine buildup play sent Juan Arango through the middle and his low shot flew under Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Brazilian midfielder Santana weaved through the Real defence just before the hour and crashed a shot into the top left corner and Guinean Keita blasted a third in the 71st minute. It was a fourth straight defeat for Real and a second consecutive home loss following this month's record 6-2 thrashing at the hands of champions and arch-rivals Barcelona. Defender Fabio Cannavaro was playing his final home match before his return to Juventus and the Italy captain was spared the whistles and given a rousing ovation when he was substituted in the second half. It was almost certainly the last match in charge at the Bernabeu for coach Juande Ramos, whose six-month contract runs in June, and other players could also move on as the club braces for a new president following elections due on June 14. NOTHING AT STAKE "It's normal that when a team has nothing left to play for they take their foot off the gas and I think that's what happened tonight," Ramos said at a news conference. "If there is absolutely nothing at stake then there is bound to be a certain easing off and it's no wonder that the players are not able to give their all." With one match remaining, champions Barcelona have 86 points, Real are second on 78 and Sevilla, in third on 67, are assured of a place in next season's Champions League. Atletico Madrid's 4-1 win at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday gave them 64 points and cemented their hold on the fourth and final spot in Europe's top club competition. Abel Resino's men need only a draw next weekend at home to Almeria to see off the challenge from fifth-placed Villarreal, who have 62 and play at Mallorca. Recreativo Huelva and Numancia were relegated after defeats on Saturday, leaving five teams, Osasuna, Sporting Gijon, Real Betis, Getafe and Real Valladolid, in the battle to avoid the last relegation spot in the final round of matches.
24 May 2009
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