A large part of being an Atletico fan means being left devastated, disappointed and angry every other week, but every once in a while we experience that satisfying redemption that justifies all of our heartache and pain.
In an unforgettable 2010, we were very fortunate to witness red and white glory on several occasions, and we were reminded why we are what we are: die-hard Rojiblancos.
Our Top 5 Moments of the past year
5. Copa del Rey comeback against Recreativo
14 January 2010
Our spirits dampened because of our abysmal league campaign to date and having lost the away tie of this Copa del Rey round of 16 fixture in Huelva by a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 margin, we came into this encounter with very faint hopes of pulling off the miracle.
But the goals came fast, with Simao, Kun and Ujfalusi netting in the first half. We went up 4-3 in the aggregate score in the second half after Kun scored a wacky goal in the 62nd minute, but just when we were starting to believe, Recreativo put a crucial away goal past De Gea that resulted from a big mistake by Assuncao. Minutes later, Paulo saw red after being booked a second time, further threatening our chances.
With about five minutes left of regulation time though, Simao scored off of an exquisitely executed freekick that froze Recre’s keeper, and the Calderón erupted. Down to 10-men, we fended off El Decano’s desperate attacks until the final whistle blew, earning us a berth into the Copa del Rey quarterfinals.
4. Victory over Barcelona at the Calderón
14 February 2010
Riding a wave of good cheer having qualified for our first Copa del Rey final in 10 years after seeing off Racing Santander days before, we played host to an undefeated and mighty Barcelona on Valentine’s Day.
Though we all knew it was certainly possible to take down the Catalan giants, we were just as stunned by Forlán’s goal, following a surgical pass by Reyes, as Victor Valdés was. Just over 10 minutes later, it was Simao Sabrosa with another flawless freekick that took us up 2-0. Moments after that, Ibrahimovic trimmed our lead down to 2-1 with a volley from a corner kick.
At that point, it sort of felt inevitable that Barca would tie it up and then take the lead. The Culés dominated possession in the second half, but we successfully corralled Messi, surrounding him with three defenders at a time whenever he approached the box. Perea was responsible for shutting down Zlatan, and turned in one of his most positively memorable performances of his career at Atleti.
We held off the treble champions, handing Barcelona their lone domestic league loss of the season. For a week after that Atléticos everywhere walked around with an irremovable smile and strutted to an off-putting, arrogant swagger.
3. Elimination of Liverpool at Anfield in Europa League semi-final
29 April 2010
We took a very slim 1-0 lead into Anfield for the away fixture of our Europa League semi-final, and faced off against a wounded and Torres-less Liverpool side that sought to save face after a disastrous league campaign of their own.
Alberto Aquilani struck just before the first half to tie the global score at 1-1. At the end of regulation time we remained knotted at a goal a piece, taking us into extra time. The suspense didn’t last too long, as Yossi Benayoun drilled a shot into our net just five minutes into the first extra time period, giving the Merseysiders their first lead.
We felt a growing sense of anxiety and things were looking grim. Liverpool had seemingly ended our unbelievable Europa League run, but Forlan, who had scored our lone goal in Madrid the week before, had the last word. Cacha received a lovely cross from Reyes and struck a one-bounce volley past a helpless Pepe Reina, crushing the Reds’ dreams of salvaging their dismal season and launching us to the final in Hamburg.
We will never forget Forlan’s euphoric dash to the sideline after scoring, when he tore off his shirt in celebration with his team-mates.
2. Super Cup win over Inter Milan
27 August 2010
We capped off our spectacular 2009-10 season with our first ever UEFA Super Cup title by defeating treble-winner Inter Milan in Monaco. Coming into the meeting, we had a nothing-to-lose, everything-to-gain attitude.
The clash started with the Nerazzurri attacking quickly, and we looked like we were in for a rough night. But we survived Inter’s early onslaught and slowly began to take control of the game. To neutral onlookers, the bout was likely a boring one, but us Rojiblancos felt the tension all the way up until Reyes’ goal in the 62nd minute that broke the deadlock.
Still in a state of disbelief that we were on the verge of pulling off a stunning upset and about to dethrone the European Champions, Kun scored an incredibly easy goal in the 82nd minute and we could feel the hardware in our hands.
But the drama wouldn’t end there. Raul Garcia stepped on Goran Pandev’s foot in the box in the 89th minute, and the ref awarded Rafael Benitez’s side a penalty kick. Trepidation ensued, as we imagined that Milito would score and we’d have to ward off a last minute barrage, but our angel between the sticks David de Gea made an extraordinary save and we became the new kings of Europe.
1. Europa League triumph in Hamburg
12 May 2010
Atlético’s institutional marketing campaign requested of all Rojiblanco supporters to “dream stronger” ahead of the Europa League final in Hamburg, but many of us likely didn’t get a wink of sleep on the eve of the match.
A plucky Fulham side that had knocked out none other than Juventus, Wolfburg and Hamburg en route to the championship game, were the last hurdle of our momentous Europa League crusade.
The game finally kicked off and we dominated play from the start. It was only a matter of time before Forlan would inevitably smack one home, and he did so in the 32nd minute. We thought we had the title in the bag, but Fulham rallied to level the scoreline just five minutes later, when Simon Davies powered in a blast.
The score remained tied and stayed that way until regulation time elapsed. Just like at Anfield, it was going to take an overtime period to settle matters.
An uneventful first extra-time period transpired, both teams standing their ground. The time slowly bled off the clock in the second extra-time period, and with five minutes left, the uneasiness began to settle in. Would the match be resolved with penalty kicks?
But our blonde conqueror wasn’t going to have it. With an assist from his lethal strike partner Kun Aguero who had streaked down the field to save a ball from slipping out of the goal line, he brought Fulham to their knees with a cheeky flick past goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
Atleti players and fans celebrated in all out jubilation, and back in Madrid thousands of Colchoneros flocked to the traditional Neptuno fountain. After 14 years of living in the shadows of the Spanish capital, we finally saw the light once again and banished the pesky curse of El Pupas as we lifted our first continental trophy in 48 years.
We’d like to wish you a Happy New Year on behalf of us here at AtléticoFans.com! Let’s hope that 2011 will be just as memorable as 2010 was, and that we finally defeat our neighbors Real Madrid!!