Real Valladolid 1-2 Atlético Madrid: Atlético Madrid clinch La Liga title after Luis Suárez seals win at

     Atletico Madrid’s captain, Koke, says they are destined to suffer, but they are champions of Spain. Five thousand fans gathered in the car park outside stadium, while inside Diego Simeone’s side offered another exhibition in survival, coming from behind to win and take the title in a season that had twists to the last. Top since week 12, Atlético hung on.

In the last minute Sergi Guardiola flashed a shot over, fear still gripping everyone here, but Atlético were finally pulled over the line by goals from Ángel Correa and, appropriately, Luis Suárez – the man who more than anyone else has made the difference this season.

The task before Atlético was simple – win – but achieving it was another matter. Valladolid were fighting against relegation; Atlético were fighting their own fears, the pressure they have lived with for months now. They had suffered but not yet succumbed and yet nor had they overcome, Simeone saying recently that “anxiety exists”.

The best way to avoid that feeling was quickly and after 37 seconds Suárez was through, only to be caught by Jawad el Jamiq.

Atlético began on the front foot, pressing high, and a Suárez volley went across the face of goal. Yannick Carrasco and Ángel Correa were lively while Kieran Tripper was open on the right, his cross headed goalwards by Saúl.

But that brings its risks and from an Atlético corner, Carrasco lost the ball on the edge of the area and suddenly they were exposed. Óscar Plano ran through the middle of the pitch, wide space before him. For a moment he appeared to have lost control but he got it back again and bent his finish inside the near post, thudding at his chest in celebration. Seventeen minutes were gone and Atlético were down.

Which was when news came in that 195km away Villarreal had scored against Madrid, the season summed up in a second. Unbelievable and yet so very believable. Atlético were still top, still champions in waiting. But they knew they could not expect things to stay that way. The problem was that the more they searched the more nervous they looked, the more vulnerable to the break. Felipe had to slide in on Janko to prevent a second.

Suárez cut inside and bent a shot that Jordi Masip pushed wide, but the fear hung heavily, Atlético too often running into traffic, too often imprecise. Carrasco in particular was determined to make amends, which only made it worse. When a Mario Hermoso pass went straight out of play just before the break, it summed this up. The season was not just going down to the last 90 minutes, it was going down to the last 45. Or less.

Luis Suárez scored the winner as Atlético Madrid fought back from a goal down.

   Luis Suárez scored the winner as Atlético Madrid fought back from a goal down.

It took 30 seconds after the restart for Atlético to create another chance, Marcos Llorente accelerated into the area on the left and crossed. Suárez’s diving header was blocked on the line by Janko. Llorente then had a shot blocked and, for the second time, José Giménez headed over a corner from close range. There was an urgency about Atlético now.

Then, on 57 minutes came one of those moments that have defined this season. At Valdebebas, Karim Benzema scored, or thought he had. While the VAR was checking that, Correa turned on the edge of the area and toe-poked a shot into the bottom corner. As Atlético celebrated their goal, Madrid’s was disallowed. Soon, they were celebrating another, but not before Shon Weismann headed over from six yards as Oblak’s save bounced before him, the goal open.

An awful mistake from Guardiola set Suárez through, alone. Time seemed to stand still as he ran on goal and bent a lovely left-foot shot low into the net at the near post.

It was his 21st goal of the season, and although there was time to suffer still, nerves to the very last second of this extraordinary season, it took Atlético to the title.




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