BARCELONA, Spain --
Atletico Madrid rallied for a dramatic 1-1 draw at Barcelona on Saturday to secure its first Spanish league title in 18 years.
Everything that could go wrong seemed to be going wrong for Atletico Madrid in Saturday’s La Liga decider at Barcelona's Camp Nou, but Diego Simeone's amazing side from the strength from somewhere to come back get the draw they needed to take this season's Spanish championship title.
''Today we could make history,'' Atletico coach Simeone said. ''Not at any moment did I feel that the game was getting away from my team. I know them. I knew they could respond, and the bigger the challenge, the better.''
In the first final day head to head shoot-out in since 1951, Atletico first lost key players Diego Costa and Arda Turan through injury, then went behind to an Alexis Sanchez wonder-strike. But Simeone's men kept believing, and kept fighting. Diego Godin's header drew them level, and Atletico easily stood firm through a pretty lame Barca final onslaught to claim a first La Liga crown in 18 years.
The drama began right from the off. Before the game could really settle into a pattern Arda - and his Atletico teammate Costa -- were both off the pitch. First Costa pulled up mid-run and put his hand in the air to call for attention before slumping to the turf. Just minutes later Arda limped from the pitch after an accidental clash with Cesc Fabregas. Adrian Lopez and Raul Garcia were the replacements. Both departed players sat in tears watching from the bench.
Even still Barca struggled to seize the initiative. Messi was trying to do things quickly, before Atletico’s defense could get set, but nothing was coming off for him at all. Home attacks were too rushed, too frantic, and the only chances were headers from Alexis and Pedro Rodriguez which caused visiting goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois no problems.
Then, on 33 minutes, out of nothing Barca scored. Alves, Fabregas and Messi were involved in a move around the edge of the Atletico box, but the danger seemed minimal until Sanchez whacked an unstoppable volley past a stunned Courtois to the net from a tight angle. This was the first time Barca had been ahead on the scoreboard in all six games against Atletico this season, and the 95,000 strong home support erupted with joy.