Atletico at the double

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The Independent Online
"The happiest day of my life," was how Atletico Madrid's president, Jesus Gil - a man known to be not easily pleased - described the clinching of his club's first-ever league and cup double.

Following victory over Barcelona in the cup, Atletico's ninth championship was achieved with a 2-0 win against Albacete at the Vicente Calderon stadium on Saturday, courtesy of goals from Diego Simeone and Kiko.

If all of this was not bad enough for their fierce rivals, Real Madrid, the six times European Cup champions failed to qualify for Continental competition for only the second time in their history.

Needing just a draw to guarantee the title, Atletico, coached by the former Luton player, Raddy Antic, took charge from the start, scoring after 13 minutes when the Argentine midfielder Simeone headed home a free- kick from the Serbian set-piece specialist, Milinko Pantic.

Victory was sealed midway through the first half when Kiko capitalised on a mistake. The only blight on the proceedings was when Atletico defender Clemente Otero was sent off in the 82nd minute for a foul on Jose Luis Caminero. Second-placed Valencia, who began the day with an outside chance of taking the title, ended up drawing 1-1 with Celta Vigo. Espanol and Tenerife are the other Uefa Cup qualifiers. The defeated finalists Barcelona, Bobby Robson's new club, will play in the Cup-Winners' Cup.

Davor Suker, the Croatian striker who will be playing in Euro 96, was carried from the field on his last day as a Seville player after scoring a hat-trick in the 3-1 victory over Salamanca which helped his club avoid relegation. Suker had flown in specially from his national team's training camp. He joins Real next season.

Relegated Kaiserslautern rescued some pride from their dismal season when they beat Karlsruhe 1-0 to win the German Cup final, despite playing the last 18 minutes with 10 men after Andreas Brehme was sent off.

The winning goal came after 42 minutes from midfielder Martin Wagner to bring some consolation to the 1991 champions, who were relegated from the first division last weekend for the first time since the Bundesliga was set up in 1963.

Uncapped Fabio Rossitto, of Udinese, has been called up by Italy to replace the injured Antonio Conte for the European Championship. Conte's Juventus colleague, Moreno Torricelli, was involved in a car crash on Sunday but was not badly hurt and will be fit to play in the finals.

With two Serie B games still to play, Verona, the 1985 Serie A champions, guaranteed their promotion back to the top flight after an absence of four years with a 1-1 draw at Lucchese. Padova, Torino, Bari and Cremonese have been relegated.

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