Football: Real draw final game to send neighbours Leganes down, Messi is La Liga top scorer for seventh time

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema (right) in action during the La Liga match against Leganes on July 19, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID (REUTERS) - Newly crowned Spanish La Liga champions Real Madrid were unable to maintain their perfect run of results since the season re-started, as they drew 2-2 at neighbours Leganes, who were relegated on Sunday (July 19).

Real ended the campaign on 87 points after the draw interrupted a run of 10 consecutive victories, five clear of second-placed Barcelona.

Leganes finished 18th on 36 points, joining 19th-placed Mallorca and Espanyol in being relegated, while Celta Vigo, who finished on 37, stayed up after drawing 0-0 at Espanyol.

A late goal by Real Sociedad substitute Adnan Januzaj secured a 1-1 draw at Atletico Madrid, as they finished sixth to secure a Europa League spot.

The draw left third-placed Atletico on 70 points, 17 adrift of Real and 12 behind Barcelona. They will be joined in next season's Champions League by already qualified fourth-placed Sevilla, who beat Valencia 1-0.

Granada hammered Athletic Bilbao 4-0 to grab seventh place and a spot in the Europa League second qualifying round.

Meanwhile, Lionel Messi finished as top scorer in La Liga for a record seventh time after netting twice, as dethroned champions Barcelona ended their disappointing campaign on a high with a resounding 5-0 win at Alaves.

Alaves came 16th on 39 points.

The Argentinian star, who also ended as top marksman for a fourth consecutive season, eclipsed the benchmark he previously shared with the late Telmo Zarra but said he would have rather have won the league.

"Individual prizes and objectives are secondary. It's an important achievement to win it seven times but I would have liked it to have been accompanied by the La Liga title," the 33-year-old said.

Against Leganes, Sergio Ramos headed home his 11th league goal this season to put Real in front after nine minutes, as Zinedine Zidane heavily rotated his team following the 2-1 win over Villarreal on Thursday that clinched their first Liga title since 2017.

Leganes levelled on the stroke of half-time through midfielder Bryan Gil but Marco Asensio restored Real's lead early in the second half.

Roger Assale equalised in the 78th to give Leganes a slither of hope of survival and they needed one more goal to pull off a miraculous escape from relegation.

They came agonisingly close to finding it, having a late penalty appeal turned down for handball against Luka Jovic after a VAR review.

Oscar Rodriguez then blasted over from inside the area deep in added time and the Madrid side dropped out of the top flight for the first time since winning their maiden promotion to La Liga in 2016.

"Even though we didn't get the result we wanted, the sacrifice was worth it and we are proud to have fought until the end," said Leganes defender Unai Bustinza. "What we have done should be seen as an example that you should never give up."

Bustinza also reflected on the fact his side lost their two main strikers at the start of the year, forced to sell Youssef En-Nesyri to Sevilla and then Martin Braithwaite to Barcelona in February after their buyout clauses were triggered.

He added: "This year has been an uphill struggle because as well as the lockdown period we didn't have that little bit of luck we needed and some very important players were taken away from us. We'll do our best to get back up."

The third Europa League spot is usually awarded to the winners of the Copa del Rey but instead went to the team finishing seventh as finalists Sociedad and Bilbao requested that the showpiece, postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, be held off until next season so fans can attend.

Needing only a point to make it into Europe next season, Sociedad's dream was almost shattered when an outrageously brilliant back-heel from Atleti's Alvaro Morata teed up the ball for Koke to blast home on the half-hour mark.

However, Januzaj's free kick three minutes from time flew into the net, securing Sociedad a place in Europe next season.

"At half-time I told the players we were going to do it and in the 80th minute, and we scored in the 86th. The team never stopped believing and I think by finishing sixth justice has been done," said Sociedad coach Imanol Alguacil.

"I feel terribly proud to be coach of this great club and for getting into Europe and for the way we did it."

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