Atlético holds on to win 1st Spanish league title since 2014

Atletico Madrid players jubilate at the end of the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Valladolid at the Jose Zorrilla stadium in Valladolid, Spain, Saturday, May 22, 2021. Atletico won 2-1 and clinches its 11th Spanish La Liga title. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
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MADRID (AP) — Atlético Madrid survived a dramatic final round to clinch its first Spanish league title since 2014 with a 2-1 come-from-behind win at Valladolid on Saturday.

Luis Suárez scored the winner for Atlético as it beat Real Madrid for the title in a wild finish that had plenty of twists with the two remaining title contenders playing at the same time.

Madrid couldn’t repeat as champion despite rallying to defeat Villarreal 2-1 at home and giving Atlético a very late scare. A win for Madrid and draw for Atlético would have kept the title at Madrid on the head-to-head tiebreaker.

The results left Atlético two points in front of Madrid at the end of the 38-round season, giving Diego Simeone’s team its second league title in 25 years. Atlético’s previous league title was in 1996, when Simeone still played for the club.

As players chanted and celebrated on the field, several hundred Atlético fans held their own celebrations outside the José Zorrilla Stadium in Valladolid.

Atlético’s 11th league title ended a seven-year dominance by Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain. Since 2014, Barcelona had won the league four times and Madrid twice, including last season.

Real Madrid was trying to win back-to-back league trophies for the first time since 2007-08.

Barcelona was out of contention entering the final round.

Atlético led the league since the ninth round but risked losing it at the end after Valladolid jumped ahead with a goal by Óscar Plano in the 18th minute, but Ángel Correa equalized in the 57th and Suárez sealed the win in the 67th.

It was the 21st league goal for Suárez, who was key for Atlético throughout the season after being let go by Barcelona against his wishes.

The Uruguay striker was clearly moved after the match.

“Atlético opened the doors to me,” Suárez said. “I’ll always be very thankful for this great club.”

Valladolid was relegated with the loss.