Atletico Madrid clinched the Spanish league title Saturday when they drew 1-1 against the only team that could overtake them, Barcelona.
The match was the last of the season for both teams. Barcelona, playing at home, needed to win to snatch first place in La Liga.
Barça took the lead after 33 minutes. Lionel Messi tried to control the ball with his chest, but as the ball bounced away it dropped into the path of team-mate Alexis Sanchez. He ripped a shot just inside the near post from an acute angle.
That goal concluded a bad spell for Atletico. They had already lost two key players who might also miss the Champions League final against Real Madrid next week.
Striker Diego Costa, who was returning from a hamstring injury, pulled up lame after 16 minutes. Costa, who is also in Spain’s preliminary World Cup squad, sat on the bench with his head in his hands. Five minutes later, Atletico playmaker Arda Turan went off with a hip injury.
Yet Atletico fought back. They leveled after 48 minutes when Diego Godin leaped to meet a corner near the penalty spot and smashed a header into the net.
Barcelona pressed furiously, but Atletico was steady in defence and menacing on the counter-attack and held on.
It was Atletico’s 10th Spanish league title but the first since 1996. It's also the first time since 2004 that a team other than Barcelona or Real Madrid had won La Liga.
The draw meant Barcelona overtook Real Madrid to finish second.
Following the game, Gerardo Martino said he was stepping down after just one disappointing season as Barcelona coach. The club finished without a major trophy for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
Date created : 2014-05-17