Paco refused to hear the scores when Rayo were 1-0 down. Nor when Rayo were 2-0 down. Nor when Rayo were 2-1 down. He turned to his bench, to the coaches who had supported him all season when criticism was at it’s zenith, to the coaches who had seen their players pull out for the season one by one, to the coaches who couldn’t hide their emotions as they responded.
Granada? Safe. Getafe-Sporting? Draw.
His head hung low, his eyes lost - searching for reason in a season that has been unreasonable to Rayo - his mind made up: "We are dead". Trashorras said the same thing later too. Later, they both clarified, saying that realistically, Rayo’s foot in the Second division was stronger than the one in the First.
And the reason they clarified is because Rayo still could stay up.
As for Sporting? They belied a transfer ban to come this far, and Abelardo was clear - he would’ve take this at the start of the season. Had Sporting not been promoted last season, they would’ve been relegated to Segunda B - amateur football - given their debts.
Both teams on 35 points. Both teams in the relegation zone. Both teams depend on other results to go their way.
Both teams needing Getafe to not win. Yeah, Getafe. The team that itself admits supporting Getafe is suffering, the team that spent €270,000 to loan Alvaro Pereira, who was banned for eight games from a previous offence, the team whose main rivals historically are not Real Madrid or Atlético but CD Leganés. They might end up playing with them next season in La Segunda, or even La Liga.
If Getafe win, they are through. But they are also through if they draw and the others drop points, or even if all three lose. Sporting need to win and Getafe to drop points - or they could draw and hope both Madrid teams drop points. For Rayo to go through, they need to win and for the others to drop points. They also go through if they draw and both other teams lose.
Unlikely? Yes. But weird things happen on the final day. Especially when Sporting and their opponents, Villarreal, want Sporting to survive, because Marcelino is a Sporting fan. Especially when Getafe's opponents, Betis, has a fan base that has been friendly to Sporting for years. Especially when who knows which Levante will come out against Rayo, the one against Málaga or the one against Atléti.
Three teams. Three showdowns. One survivor.
Sporting vs Villarreal:
Sporting: (4-4-2) Cuéllar; Lora, Hernández, Meré, López; Carmona, Álvarez, Aït-Atmane, Jony; Sanabria, Guerrero.
Villarreal: (4-4-2) Barbosa; Gaspar, Bailly, Bonera, Rukavina; Leiva, Trigueros, dos Santos, Castillejo; Samuel, Baptistão.
Real Betis vs Getafe:
Real Betis: (4-4-2) D. Gimenez; Vargas, Westermann, Pezzella, Montoya; Ceballos, Petros, N’Diaye, Joaquín; Castro, Molina.
Getafe: (4-2-3-1) Guaita; Suárez, Vergini, Cala, Pereira; Medrán, Rodríguez; León, Sarabia, Gómez; Šćepović.
Rayo Vallecano vs Levante:
Rayo Vallecano: (4-2-3-1) Yoel; Quini, Amaya, Tito, Nacho; Trashorras, Llorente; Hernández, Jozabed, Embarba; Guerra.
Levante: (4-2-3-1) Marino; López, Navarro, Medjani, Juanfran; Simão, Verza; Xumetra, Lerma, García; Casadesús.
Rayo 3-1 Levante
Real Betis 2-1 Getafe
Sporting 2-0 Villarreal