Atlético Madrid have ended the 2012-2013 La Liga season with a 3-1 victory over Real Zaragoza, thereby relegating the Maños to the Segunda División.
The match long headed towards a stalemate, but after Arda Turan’s goal in the 84th minute, the game exploded. Postiga tied, before Diego Costa finished his excellent season in style by scoring a brace to lead Atleti to a late victory.
Zaragoza had only one option on Saturday night, and that was to win in front of their home crowd. They started off strongly, and Thibaut Courtois was called to action early on as he stopped volleys by Montañés and Apoño.
Atleti quickly responded and nearly took the lead in the 15th minute. A Koke corner led to Diego Costa smashing a header against the crossbar, while Víctor Rodríguez fired just wide at the other end.
After half an hour had been played, Diego Costa and Cebolla Rodríguez combined and the latter was served the opening goal on a platter, but he inexplicably missed in front of an open goal.
Shortly before the half Miranda was called back after scoring from an offside position, and Tiago had his shot blocked after yet another move by Diego Costa. The Brazilian forward seemed eager to take on even more responsibility in Falcao’s absence, and was by far the best player on the pitch. At the start of the second half he did well to create space for himself, but his shot was deflected wide for a corner. Immediately after the half-time break Víctor Rodríguez had beaten Jorge Pulido, but instead of looking for his teammates the young winger shot straight at Courtois.
Atlético were dominating the game, and it seemed only a matter of time before the Rojiblancos would take the lead. At the hour mark a volley by Adrián just missed the target, and a few minutes later, Zaragoza ‘keeper Leo Franco was lucky not to be sent off. The former Atlético goalie brought down Diego Costa, but was shown just a yellow for his late challenge.
A shot by Hélder Postiga seemed to start a late offensive by the home team as they tried to avoid relegation, but his shot was stopped by Thibaut Courtois, who claimed the Zamora trophy as the La Liga goalkeeper with the fewest goals conceded.
Substitute Arda Turan then opened the scoring in the 84th minute. The Turk cut inside and left two defenders behind before beautifully and powerfully firing past Leo Franco.
Zaragoza weren’t ready to let go yet and equalised five minutes later, when a rare mistake in Atleti’s defence allowed Hélder Postiga to tie the game. A loose ball fell before the Portuguese striker’s feet after a mix up between Thibaut Courtois and his defenders.
However, almost immediately Diego Costa restored our lead when he volleyed the ball past Franco to score the 2-1. The perfect assist came from Dani Aquino, who had come on just a couple minutes earlier and made the most of his debut by delivering a fantastic cross from the left.
Costa then killed any hope Zaragoza may have still had by also scoring our third. Initially he was blocked by Leo Franco, but Koke picked up the loose ball and assisted Costa for his 18th goal this season.
After Villarreal last year, this was the second consecutive time Atleti sent down their opponent on the last day of the campaign, as Zaragoza joined Deportivo and Mallorca as the three teams to finish last in la Liga.
Line-up: Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Pulido, Insúa; R.García (“64 Óliver Torres), Tiago, Koke, C.Rodríguez (“77 Arda Turan); Adrián (“89 Dani Aquino) and Diego Costa.
Goals: 0-1 Arda Turan (“84”); 1-1 Postiga (“89); 1-2 Diego Costa (“90); 1-3 Diego Costa (“92)