MADRID: Real Sociedad suffered a 2-1 defeat at Atletico Madrid in La Liga on Sunday, but secured a top-four finish and Champions League qualification after Villarreal also lost 2-1 at Rayo Vallecano.
With one round remaining, Real Sociedad are fourth with 68 points, five ahead of fifth-placed Villarreal.
Real Sociedad will join Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, and LaLiga champions Barcelona in Europe’s elite club competition next season.
Atletico Madrid showed no mercy to Sociedad, with Antoine Griezmann scoring eight minutes before the break and Nahuel Molina doubling their lead after 73 minutes.
Alexander Sorloth pulled one back for Sociedad in the 88th minute, but they could not find a leveller.
“I would have liked to be able to celebrate qualifying another way, but we have had a great season and are very happy,” Real Sociedad striker Mikel Oyarzabal told Movistar. “We have to celebrate, the fans should enjoy it, and next Sunday we can have a party at home, a celebration -- we’ll do all we can to win that game and end things well.”
Villarreal will play in the Europa League next season, along with Real Betis, sixth, who beat Girona 2-1.
Osasuna, who fell to a late 2-1 defeat by Getafe, are seventh and currently in line to qualify for the Conference League.
However Athletic Bilbao, Girona, Rayo and Sevilla remain in contention for the spot.
Espanyol will join the already-relegated Elche in the second tier after a 2-2 draw against Valencia earlier on Sunday.
The Barcelona-based club needed to win to maintain any chance of avoiding relegation, but their hopes were dashed when Valencia’s Samuel Lino equalised three minutes into stoppage time.
“To get to this situation we have done many things wrong, but I think sincerely, from the most self-critical position personally and as a group, that we don’t deserve this in this way,” Espanyol midfielder Sergi Darder told Movistar.
One other side will go down along with already-relegated Elche on the final day of the season, with Real Valladolid currently 18th, a point from safety, after they drew 0-0 at Almeria.
Celta Vigo lost 1-0 at Cadiz and are 17th, a point from safety, along with Almeria while Getafe are two points clear of the relegation zone.
La Liga champions Barcelona enjoyed a series of emotional goodbyes in their final match at Camp Nou before the stadium is rebuilt, thrashing Real Mallorca 3-0.
Captain Sergio Busquets and defender Jordi Alba also played at home for the last time, in the club’s penultimate league match of the season, and were awarded warm farewells by the sell-out crowd.
Ansu Fati struck twice in the first half and Gavi added one after the break as the Catalans triumphed in style.
Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2023