Sports Desk, May 22 (EFE).- Atletico Madrid trailed 19th-place Valladolid 1-0 at half-time on Saturday before battling back to prevail 2-1 and take the LaLiga title for the second time in seven years and the 11th in club history.
The defending champions, Real Madrid, likewise came from behind to beat Villarreal 2-1, but the Blancos’ hope of retaining the crown depended on their cross-town rivals’ losing.
And though the Colchoneros’ struggles in the second half of the campaign opened the door to challenges from Real Madrid and Barcelona, Diego Simeone’s men maintained an iron grip on first place for 25 match days.
The second LaLiga championship of the Simeone era was built on Atleti’s terrific run in the first 19 matches, when they took 50 of 57 possible points. While that pace proved unsustainable, they would still finish with just four defeats.
The Argentine coach can justly claim to have revolutionized Spanish soccer by disrupting, if not ending, the Blancos-Barça duopoly.
Since 2004, Atletico have been the only team not named Real Madrid or Barcelona to hoist the LaLiga trophy.
Ahead of the Blancos by 2 points, Atletico controlled their own destiny heading into the contest in Valladolid, but they did not get off to a promising start.
Playing without the confidence and attacking verve they demonstrated in recent matches, the visitors were stung on the counter in the 19th minute.
The sequence began with a poorly executed Atleti corner and ended with Oscar Plano’s making it 1-0 for Valladolid, who needed all 3 points to have any chance of escaping the drop zone.
The hosts were still on top in the 57th minute when Atletico’s Yannick Carrasco sent the ball into the area for Angel Correa, who evaded several defenders before beating keeper Jordi Masip to level the match at 1-1.
Nine minutes later, Luis Suarez exploited a giveaway by Valladolid’s Sergi Guardiola to charge down the field and slotting past Masip for what would prove to be the game winner.
Discarded by Barcelona at the start of the season, the Uruguayan has shown he has plenty of football left in him, scoring 21 goals to lead Atletico to triumph.
Valladolid, meanwhile, are headed back to the second division after three seasons in the top-flight. EFE