Qatar-owned Malaga secured fourth place in La Liga and a first shot at the Champions League with a 1-0 home win over Sporting de Gijon, who joined Villarreal in being relegated, in a dramatic finale to the season on Sunday.
The last eight matches had three places in Europe and two relegation slots at stake as the games all kicked off at the same time, with fans glued to their radios in grounds around Spain.
Salomon Rondon headed Malaga in front from a corner just after halftime, putting the big-spending club on 58 points, ahead of Atletico Madrid and Levante UD, who finished fifth and sixth, to secure entry to the Europa League.
“The dressing room are delighted. We weren’t content to settle for a Europa League place,” Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini told a press conference.
Atletico beat Villarreal 1-0 with an 88th-minute header from Radamel Falcao, condemning the team that finished fourth last season to relegation.
Villarreal were hanging by a thread in 17th when news filtered through that Rayo Vallecano de Madrid had grabbed a 90th-minute winner through Raul Tamudo for a 1-0 victory over Granada.
Rayo pushed Villarreal, the Champions League semi-finalists in 2006, down into the second division and a pitch invasion at their tiny stadium saw players being stripped of their kit.
“It’s very tough,” Villarreal’s Angel told Spanish television as he left the pitch.
Real Zaragoza escaped from the bottom three with a 2-0 victory at Getafe, who finished with eight men on the pitch.
Levante UD secured their highest league finish in their 102 years with a 3-0 rout of Athletic Bilbao, qualifying for European competition for the first time.
RCD Espanyol closed their campaign with a 1-1 draw against Sevilla, while already-relegated Real Racing Club de Santander lost 4-2 to CA Osasuna.
Champions Real Madrid signed off with a 4-1 hammering of RCD Mallorca at the Bernabeu to set a new La Liga record of 100 points for a season, beating the previous best of 99 achieved by Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in 2010.
Cristiano Ronaldo headed his 46th league goal of the campaign, Karim Benzema and a double from Mesut Ozil lifted Real to a league scoring record of 121 goals.
Additional reporting by staff writer