Real Madrid finished
their disappointing season on a high note as they overcame a spirited
Real Zaragoza 3-1 on Saturday.
Already assured of second place, Real ended their second successive year
without a major trophy on 80 points, four behind champions Barcelona.
England striker Michael Owen put Real ahead in the first half but the
sides changed ends level after Oscar's equaliser two minutes before
Brazilian defender Roberto Carlos restored Real's lead just after the
re-start and striker Ronaldo added a third in the final minute.
Earlier on Saturday, Barcelona, with a number of key players rested,
drew 0-0 against mid-table Real Sociedad.
Striker Samuel Eto'o, the league's leading scorer, failed to add to his
tally of 24 goals, while Sociedad came closest when they hit the
crossbar early in the first half.
Sociedad's Russian midfielder Valery Karpin, playing his last game
before retiring, received a standing ovation when he was substituted
near the end.
The last two Champions League places and the final relegation spot will
be decided on Sunday.
Third and fourth in the league is being contested by Villarreal, Real
Betis, Sevilla and Espanyol, while at the foot of the table Levante and
Real Mallorca are fighting to avoid the drop. Numancia and Albacete are
Zaragoza started strongly, pinning Real back into their own area, and
came close to scoring after 14 minutes when striker David Villa blazed
over the bar with only Iker Casillas to beat.
Against the run of play, Real took the lead after 25 minutes when home
keeper Luis Garcia failed to hold Zinedine Zidane's low shot from the
edge of the area.
Owen raced in to pounce on the loose ball and slot in at the near post,
taking his tally for the season to 13.
Zaragoza never allowed the pace to drop, however, and were rewarded with
a well-worked equaliser two minutes before the break.
Midfielder Oscar ran at the Real defence from midfield, played a one-two
with Villa on the edge of the area, and finished calmly past Casillas as
he continued his run.
Portuguese winger Luis Figo came off the bench at halftime to make what
could be his last appearance in a Real shirt before a transfer in the
But he played no part in Real's flowing move for the second goal. Zidane
fed Raul, whose first time pass put Roberto Carlos clear in the area and
the Brazilian drilled a low shot into the far corner.
Garcia made good saves from Figo and Ronaldo as Real's swift
counter-attacks opened up Zaragoza, who never stopped chasing the game
despite having nothing to play for.
An error by Garcia in the final minute, when he spilled the ball at the
feet of Ronaldo on the edge of the area, gifted the Real striker his
21st goal of the season.