Atletico Madrid win LaLiga title after Luis Suarez seals another comeback victory

Los rojiblancos win the 11th league title of their history after Suarez nets his 21st goal of the season

Karl Matchett
Saturday 22 May 2021 19:28 BST
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Atletico Madrid have been crowned champions of Spain after they came from behind to beat Real Valladolid 2-1.

Real Madrid were the only side who could catch them on the final day, but they ultimately fell short despite a late 2-1 victory of their own.

Atletico came into the last round of the season top of the table, two points clear of rivals Real and knowing they needed to match Los Blancos if they won - at home to Manchester United’s Europa League final opponents Villarreal - to seal the title.

Diego Simeone’s side last won the league championship seven years ago; only midfielder Koke started in the team here who was part of that LaLiga title-winning squad.

Luis Suarez had a couple of early sighters, firing one volley across the face of goal as Atleti looked for a nerve-calming opener.

But instead, a twist came at the other end as Valladolid - needing to win to have a chance of avoiding relegation - opened the scoring with an incredible counter-attack off an Atleti corner, resulting in Oscar Plano racing from his own half to beat Jan Oblak at the near post.

Seconds later, though, Yeremi Pino netted in yellow, Villarreal going in front against Real to leave the two-point gap intact.

Yannick Carrasco was proving the best outlet for Atletico down the left flank once again and it was he who teed up the next chance, a driving run seeing Suarez curl just off-target after the half-hour mark.

But either nerves or fear seemed to be getting to plenty of the rojiblancos players, with stray passes a common theme of the first half and Valladolid seeming to break through the centre of the pitch with far more regularity than should have been the case for one of the league’s most goal-shy attacks against the best defence this season.

A one-goal deficit at the break doubtless left Simeone with some harsh words for his team, but at least Atletico had created chances - Real Madrid had managed just a single shot on target at home in the first half, leaving the standings the same at the interval as they were prior to kick-off.

Quickfire chances after the break for Suarez and Josema Gimenez suggested that Atletico had indeed had something of a rocket in the dressing room - and 10 minutes after the restart, both matches saw key moments at the same time once more.

First Karim Benzema headed in a would-be equaliser for Real - only for a VAR check to rule it out for a marginal, shoulder-width offside call, just as Angel Correa showed great footwork to take on two defenders and poke home a low shot from the edge of the box for Atletico.

The disparity in emotions between the Madrid sides was represented in the enlarged gap in the live-running points tally, Atletico then three clear at the top.

Those two fixtures continued to match up in simultaneous events almost perfectly, with defensive errors next to present chances to both sides - and the one which was taken ultimately dictated where the title would go.

While Benzema fired only into the side-netting after goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli was closed down by Rodrygo, Luis Suarez intercepted a pass between Valladolid defenders and raced away to rifle home and put Atletico in front.

That left the title firmly in Atleti’s grasp with 22 minutes left, regardless of whether Real Madrid managed to turn their match around - which they incredibly managed to do, Benzema finally netting in style from a top-corner finish with three minutes left and Luka Modric scoring a deflected strike in injury time.

Despite that, Simeone’s side saw out the win in relative comfort, meaning despair for at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla for Real Valladolid, who were relegated, but sparking scenes of jubilation for the triumphant away side.

Elsewhere, Elche beat Athletic Club 2-0 to avoid relegation, sending Huesca down instead after they could only draw with Valencia.

Real Betis came from behind to beat Celta Vigo and clinch a Europa League spot along with fifth-place Real Sociedad, with Villarreal seventh and into the Europa Conference League after their late defeat to Real.

Barcelona beat bottom club Eibar with a spectacular late strike from Antoine Griezmann, to ensure they would finish third. Sevilla, who play on Sunday, are the fourth side in LaLiga to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

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