Atletico win Spanish title with dramatic 1-1 draw at Barcelona
By Joseph Wilson ,AP
May 19, 2014, 12:02 am TWN
BARCELONA, Spain -- Atletico Madrid dramatically secured its first Spanish league title in 18 years by rallying for a 1-1 draw at Barcelona on Saturday.
Atletico lost Diego Costa and Arda Turan to injury inside 22 minutes, and Barcelona seized control at the Camp Nou in the 34th minute when Alexis Sanchez drove an unstoppable shot into the near corner.
Despite the setback, Atletico emerged from the break determined to get back in the match. David Villa hit the post, then Diego Godin fiercely headed home Koke's corner in the 49th.
Atletico needed to avoid defeat to secure the title, and it weathered Barcelona's pressure in a frantic finish to cap an improbable domestic success.
Atletico's 10th title meant a club besides Barcelona or Real Madrid was Spanish champion for the first time since Valencia in 2004.
“Today we could make history,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “Not at any moment did I feel that the game was getting away from my team. I know them. I knew they could respond, and the bigger the challenge, the bettaer.”
Even the 90,000-strong Camp Nou crowd appreciated the feat as it rained cheers of “Atleti” on the players as they celebrated a title triumph that looked uncertain after it lost two of its best attacking players.
Atletico finished the 38-game season with 90 points. Barcelona finished second on 87, the same tally as Real Madrid after it closed the season with a 3-1 win over Espanyol.
“We fought all season long, hanging on against difficult teams, and against Real Madrid and Barcelona,” Godin said. “We felt the pressure, a lot of things were going against us. But the coach told us just to be confident, and believe in ourselves, and the goal would come.”
It was only the third time the championship was decided by two challengers on the final day, and the first time since 1951. Atletico did it the first time in 1946.