Atletico Madrid crowned champs

Atletico Madrid crowned champs

A towering Diego Godin header secured Atletico Madrid a 1-1 draw against Barcelona and a first La Liga title for 18 years in a thrilling climax to the campaign on Saturday.

Barca needed to beat Atletico in a final-day showdown to snatch the title away and Alexis Sanchez gave the hosts hope when he rifled home from an acute angle after 33 minutes at a packed Nou Camp.

But four minutes after the break Godin powered home from a corner and Atletico defended robustly to earn the draw they needed and claim their first championship since 1995-96.

“This was something unimaginable at the start of the season but totally deserved,” Atletico captain Gabi told Spanish television as his delirious team-mates celebrated on the pitch behind him.

“We always believed in ourselves, even when we fell behind today,” he added.
“It is a honour to be part of this and to be able to compete with the big clubs.

“Let the fans enjoy this now because they deserve it. We will celebrate this great title now and from Monday we will focus on the Champions League which is the priority now.”
Atletico, who contest next Saturday’s European showpiece against Real Madrid in Lisbon, finished with 90 points, with Barca second on 87 and Real, also with 87, in third.

It is the first time in 10 years that either Barca or Real Madrid did not win the league and Barca finished without major silverware for the first time in six years.

“We had it within our grasp for 45 minutes but all we can do now is congratulate Atleti,” Barca playmaker Andres Iniesta told Spanish TV. “After we went ahead their goal really hurt us and they are worthy champions,” added the Spain international. “We tried to the very end but today we are left empty-handed. This season is over for us and now we just have to move forward.”

Double blow

Atletico, however, suffered a double blow that may affect their chances in Champions League final when top scorer Diego Costa and playmaker Arda Turan limped out of the game.

Costa was forced off in the 16th minute with a hamstring injury in his right leg and Arda followed him just over five minutes later after bruising a hip following a collision with Cesc Fabregas.

Atletico confirmed the injuries on their Twitter feed and they potentially put the pair's participation in next Saturday's clash against Real in jeopardy.

Costa is in the preliminary Spain squad for the World Cup finals and is expected to be included in the holders' final list for the tournament in Brazil starting next month.