La Liga: Atletico Madrid and Barcelona set up final-day title showdown
Atletico must draw their final game to win the title, while Barcelona will take it with victory
Monday 12 May 2014
An outstanding save by Malaga goalkeeper Willy Caballero denied Atletico Madrid the opportunity to wrap up the Spanish title at their Vicente Calderon stadium on Sunday.
The Argentinian goalkeeper produced a fingertip save to keep out a curling shot from Adrian in the final minute of stoppage time, ensuring the game ended in a 1-1 draw.
It sets up a mouthwatering showdown between Atletico and their nearest title rivals Barcelona next weekend, with Diego Simeone’s side only requiring a point to lift their first league title in 18 years.
“We still believe in this team. We’re Atletico and we’re going to go there to win,” Atletico captain Gabi Fernandez said. “We’re used to playing in finals.”
Barcelona played their part in setting up the winner-takes-all clash on the last day of the season after they drew 0-0 against strugglers Elche.
Atletico lead Barcelona by three points following the two draws but victory for the Catalans would give them their 23rd La Liga crown on head-to-head record, having drawn with Atleti earlier in the season.
“We can look ourselves in the mirror and be happy,” Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano said. “It’s going to be a great week ahead and for some of us it could be our last game with Barça so it would be a nice way to go out.”
Celta Vigo ended any lingering hopes Real Madrid had of league glory by claiming a 2-0 victory over Carlo Ancelotti’s men at Estadio Balaidos.
Celta claimed their third win on the bounce after Brazilian forward Charles capitalised on two errors from Real to score twice and leave the visitors five points behind Atletico.
At the other end of the table, Almeria gave themselves a great chance of avoiding relegation from the Primera Division with a 2-0 victory over fellow strugglers Granada.
Almeria had climbed out of the bottom three with two straight wins and made it three thanks to penalties from Verza and Aleix Vidal. That lifted them three points above the relegation zone and a point ahead of Granada, who had Jeison Murillo sent off.
Getafe took advantage of a weakened Seville side to claim a vital victory in their fight against relegation. Sergio Escudero’s 70th-minute goal gave them a 1-0 victory to help them climb three points clear of the bottom three with one match to play.
Real Sociedad striker Imanol Agirretxe struck late to ensure the Basque Country derby ended 1-1, spoiling Athletic Bilbao’s celebrations following their qualification for the Champions League.
Iker Muniain’s goal from 25 yards gave the hosts the lead to create a party atmosphere at San Mames Barria, but Agirretxe denied Athletic what would have been their first derby win for two years by scoring on 75 minutes.
Espanyol drew 1-1 with relegation battlers Osasuna, when Diego Colotto’s opener was cancelled out by Javier Acuna Caballero before the half-time whistle.
Meanwhile, already relegated Real Betis defeated second bottom Real Valladolid 4-3 thanks to Juanfran’s stoppage-time winner.
Javi Guerra put Valladolid ahead in the first minute before Carlos Pena’s own goal levelled the scores. Pena atoned with a goal at the right end after the break but Betis equalised through Jorge Molina in the 54th.
The momentum swung back to Osasuna five minutes later when Javi Guerra scored from the penalty spot, but a third equaliser from Ruben Castro in the 76th minute and Juanfran’s added-time winner wrapped up a rare win for Betis.
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