Barcelona leave city rivals in danger zone

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Barcelona celebrated their second consecutive La Liga title in front of their own fans with a 2-0 win over Espanyol which left their local rivals in danger of relegation.

Luck was against Espanyol when they went behind midway through the first half to a Daniel Jarque own goal and Ronaldinho made Barça's win comfortable with a second-half strike.

Valencia returned to second place, but a frustrating 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid may yet prove costly in the race for an automatic Champions' League berth, with their closest challengers, Real Madrid, in action against Villarreal last night.

Seville, Middlesbrough's Uefa Cup final opponents on Wednesday, climbed into fifth place and secured a place in next season's Uefa Cup with a 2-0 win at Malaga. The fitness of their former Tottenham Hotspur striker Frédéric Kanouté is now the only worry for the Seville coach Juande Ramos as they prepare for the trip to Eindhoven.

Kanouté, who was out for three weeks with a foot injury, made a 22-minute appearance as a substitute on Saturday, but Ramos indicated he had doubts about his fitness.

"He's far from the level of fitness he showed earlier in the season because he had a relapse three weeks ago and has been unable to train normally," Ramos said. "In the next few days we will see if we can improve his fitness because his aerial power could be very useful."

The win which saw Seville climb to fifth and equal two club records with 62 points and 18 victories. With two matches to go they can eclipse both those marks but the most significant outcome of the match is that Seville will play in next year's Uefa Cup even if they lose against Boro.

They are seven points clear of Deportivo La Coruña who have only two matches to play and are coached by Joaquin Caparros, who quit Seville last summer to take the reins of the Galician club.

Caparros' departure and the sale of Julio Baptista to Real Madrid last summer led many Seville fans to question the ambition of the club but Ramos has proved them wrong and said he was delighted with the way his team performed against Malaga. "We feel very happy with the victory and with our qualification for next year's Uefa Cup with two matches still to play," Ramos said. "Now we can think exclusively about the final."

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