x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Forlan tops scoring charts after Atletico charge

Atletico Madrid claim Spain's fourth Champions League place with a 3-0 win over visiting Almeria.

Atletico Madrid claimed Spain's fourth Champions League place with a 3-0 win over visiting Almeria on Saturday night. Diego Forlan's 32nd league goal of the season confirmed his second Pichichi top goalscorers' award with his highest ever tally. Twenty five goals had been enough to win it in 2005 when he also shared the European Golden Boot with Thierry Henry, a surprise achievement as Forlan was considered a flop when he left Manchester United for Villarreal in 2004.

"It's an incredible life I'm living," beamed the Uruguayan, 30. "It feels very special and I have to thank all of my teammates and coaches who have worked with me this season. What's most important is that we play again in the Champions League." Forlan surged into the lead after scoring 12 goals in the last nine games of the season, Atletico winning eight of those matches. The coach Abel Resino, who took over in February with the club in seventh place, also achieved his aim of a top four finish. Discussing his future, decided today, Resino said: "I am happy and calm. I am in no rush and we will now sit down and see what the situation is."

Atletico finished fourth behind Barcelona, Real Madrid and Sevilla, two points ahead of Villarreal, who beat Mallorca 3-2 away. Samuel Eto'o rescued a 1-1 draw for treble winners Barcelona at Deportivo La Coruna with his 30th league goal of the season. As in 2005, Eto'o finished second to Forlan in the race for the Pichichi. Valencia beat Athletic Bilbao 2-0 at home to finish sixth and will play in the Europa League. David Villa scored his 27th and 28th goals of the season and finishes third in the Pichichi. "I don't think that I've just played my final game for Valencia," said Villa. With his club in financial turmoil and needing to cash in on their star after failing to reach the lucrative Champions League, he may not have a choice.

amitten@thenational.ae