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September 23, 2017

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Madrid cap season with win for record 100 points

BARCELONA, Spain -- Real Madrid capped their dominant Spanish league campaign with a 4-1 win over Mallorca on Sunday to give the champions a record 100 points this season, while Villarreal and Sporting Gijon joined already relegated Racing Santander in being demoted to the second division.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring at the Santiago Bernabeu in the ninth minute. Karim Benzema scored four minutes later, and Mesut Oezil struck a brace after halftime.

Also, Raul Tamudo scored in stoppage time to give Rayo Vallecano a 1-0 win over Granada that lifted his team out of the drop zone and condemned Villarreal. The veteran striker headed in a rebound off the crossbar to send the fans at Vallecas stadium in the Spanish capital streaming onto the pitch.

"We always depended on ourselves," said Rayo coach Jose Sandoval. "Now we have to show our support for Villarreal and Sporting. They are both topflight teams and they will come back, I am sure of it.

"It's the moment to remember those people. We are crying for joy while they are from pain."

Malaga, which had made a 70-million-euro (US$90-million) overhaul of its squad this season, saw its investment finally pay off when it beat Sporting Gijon 1-0 through Jose Rondon's header to secure a fourth-place finish. It will join Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia in the Champions League for the first time ever.

"We knew how important this game was to Sporting, which was playing for its life," said Malaga defender Martin Demichelis. "It is a great reward for all the months of hard work."

Villarreal, which was decimated by injuries this season, was in control of its own fate until Radamel Falcao scored late to give Atletico Madrid a 1-0 win only minutes before Tamudo grabbed Rayo's last-gasp winner.

"This is a year to forget," said Villarreal striker Nilmar.

Atletico finished in fifth place, falling just short of its goal of making the Champions League.

Levante beat Athletic Bilbao 3-0 to qualify for the Europa League for the first time, putting an incredible end to its historic season that also saw it move top of the table for the first time ever to start the season.

Striker Abdelkader Ghezzal scored a brace before Javier Farinos added a third goal to give the team with the smallest budget in the league its crucial victory.

Zaragoza escaped the drop zone for the first time in 26 weeks with a 2-0 win over eight-man Getafe.

"These are moments of euphoria, but apart from that, Zaragoza is not a team, for its fans and city, that should have to go through these troubles (two seasons in a row)," said Zaragoza captain Javier Paredes, whose team was 12 points from safety just weeks ago.

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