MADRID (AP) – Karim Benzema capped off his impressive stint with Real Madrid by converting a penalty for the merengue club to earn a 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, the final day of the Spanish league.
The French star received a standing ovation from fans at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, marking the end of his career in Madrid after 14 seasons. Hours earlier, the club announced that the striker was leaving at the end of the season.
The last date of the tournament pronounced the relegation of Valladolid. In addition, Vinicius Júnior appeared again with Madrid after being the victim of a racist insult in a match on the Valencia pitch two weeks earlier.
Benzema turned his goal tally to 354 with Madrid, defining the entire centre.
Soon after, manager Carlo Ancelotti ordered a change and Benzema was delighted.
“I coached one of the best in the world, I’m not just talking about a striker, but a complete, kind, humble and serious footballer,” Ancelotti said. We may not be happy with his decision, but we must respect him. I can only thank him for what he has done at this club. Legendary”.
The tie left Madrid in second place in the championship with 78 points. At the same time, Atlético de Madrid played a 2–2 draw with Villarreal to score 77 runs.
Vinicius missed Madrid’s last two matches as the latest incident of racist chants against him drew a strong reaction from Spanish officials and the football world.
Brazilian attacker — the goal was disallowed in the 79th minute due to an offside position.
Athletic, who finished eighth with 51 points, took the lead after 49 minutes through Oihan Sanset. The Basque team initially wasted a penalty when Mikel Vesga’s shot was saved by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois after a handball from Toni Kroos in the area.
Benzema left Real Madrid after 14 years, during which he won 25 titles, including 5 European Champions Leagues, 5 Club World Cups and 4 Spanish leagues.
He leaves as the second top scorer in Merengue history with 354 goals in 648 games, surpassed only by Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo (451 goals). He also had 143 assists.
Benzema’s departure joins the departures of Marco Asensio, Mariano Díaz and Eden Hazard which were confirmed by the club over the weekend. Asensio and Díaz’s contracts expire at the end of June, while an agreement was reached to end Hazard’s relationship.
The futures of Luka Modric and Kroos, key players of the last Merengue golden era, as well as substitutes Dani Ceballos and Nacho Fernandez, are yet to be clarified. All four also terminated their contracts.
Valladolid became the third and last team after failing to draw 0–0 at home against Getafe.
A win would have saved the club owned by retired Brazilian striker Ronaldo back in the first division in 2021-22 after spending one season in the second.
Six teams were fighting for survival at the last date – Valladolid, Celta Vigo, Almería, Valencia, Getafe and Cadiz. Finally, Valladolid joins Elche and Espanyol as teams playing in the second division in the 2023–24 season.
Adrián Emberba converted an awarded penalty for VAR interference in the final leg, with Almeria dramatically rescuing a 3–3 draw against already relegated Espanyol. That result ensured the salvation of Almería and condemned Valladolid to lose their place.
Getafe was saved from finishing 15th with 42 units.
Celta de Vigo beat champions Barcelona 2-1 at home thanks to two goals from Gabriel Viga. The Galician team finished 13th with 43 points.
In another duel with the team losing in category, Cádiz drew 1–1 with Elche. Cadiz’s team was 14th with 42 points and Elche finished the table with 20 points.
Furthermore, Valencia secured a 1–1 draw with Betis so as not to depend on other results to continue in the top flight. Valencia finished 16th with 42 units.
Betis, for which veteran Joaquin Sanchez retired after 14 seasons and 622 games with the organization, finished sixth with 60 points.
Barcelona closed with 88 points, 10 more than Madrid and 11 more than Atlético.
atlético left option
Jorge Pascual Medina scored for Villarreal in the second minute of the second half to equalize with Atlético. The Gadda team thus let second place escape.
Nicolas Jackson scored his ninth goal in the last eight games for Villarreal after nine minutes. The Senegalese striker scored 12 goals in the course.
Argentine Angel Correa scored a double (18th and 56th minutes) for Atlético, who finished with 10 men due to the expulsion of Axel Witsel (70).
Villarreal finished fifth with 64 points.
Osasuna, to the Conference League
With a double from Ante Budimir, Osasuna beat Girona 2–1 to stay close to the next Conference League. The Navarrese team, seventh with 53 units, qualified for the European Cup for the first time in 16 years.
Girona, whose goal was the work of Rainer (75), was in tenth place with 49 points.
In another result, Sevilla – the new Europa League champions – fell 2–1 on the trip to Real Sociedad and closed the season in 12th place.
La Real, who will next play in the Champions League, were fourth with 71 points.
In a duel between the teams that finished in mid-table, Javier Aguirre’s Mallorca beat Rayo Vallecano 3–0.