BC-SOC--Spanish Roundup,1st Ld-Writethru
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Real Madrid put a fittingly poor ending to its worst season in recent memory after losing its last match of the Spanish league on Sunday.
Many of the frustrated fans at the Santiago Bernabeu jeered Madrid’s players after the 2-0 loss to Real Betis. Most of Madrid’s supporters have long placed their hopes on what changes the club will make to an underperforming squad in the summer.
Not even coach Zinedine Zidane could find a saving grace to the campaign.
“It isn’t that we don’t want to (play better); we aren’t able to,” Zidane said. “The best thing is for this to be over. We are already thinking about the future and next season.”
Madrid entered the match with nothing to play for, locked into a third-place finish for the second consecutive season.
Madrid was out of the Champions League and Copa del Rey in early March and without a realistic chance of stopping Barcelona from successfully defending its La Liga title.
Since the return of Zidane to take charge of the club after its shock loss to Ajax in the round-of-16 in the Champions League, the team has finished the campaign with a record of 5 wins, two draws and four losses.
“The fault is ours,” Madrid defender Marcelo said. “We didn’t start well and we didn’t finish it well either. In no way was this the season we wanted to have.”
Betis outplayed the hosts from the start and got second-half goals from Loren Moron and former Madrid forward Jese Rodriguez.
Giovani Lo Celso led Betis to victory with his creativity. The Argentine midfielder created all of his team’s best chances, drawing a save from goalkeeper Keylor Navas before setting up both goals.
A long ball by Lo Celso set Andres Guardado free down the left as he sprinted clear of Raphael Varane before crossing for Moron to score.
Lo Celso then slipped a ball through to Junior Firpo, who found Jese unmarked at the edge of the six-yard box.
Betis finished the season in 10th place amid speculation that coach Quique Setien will not continue next season despite beating both Madrid and Barcelona at their stadiums.
“This allows us to finish a season that has been a bit disappointing with a victory against a team and at a stadium that will always be a nice memory,” said Setien, who added that he has “the strength to stay on” next season.
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