La Liga: Atlético 1 – 1 Málaga
Late minute heroics by Willy deny Atleti title, for now
So close. Atleti were so close.
Mind you, nothing has been lost yet, but Atleti had almost done it. When Adrián cut inside in the 95th minute and curled it to the far corner, it seemed the scrutinized forward would become the hero of a nation in red and white.
But Willy Caballero jumped, stretched and pushed the ball away from goal with the tips of his fingers to deny Atlético the three points that would have won them their first La Liga title since 1996.
The entire game Caballero and his teammates had frustrated the home side. Atleti were a win away from the championship, but suffered at their Calderón against a team with nothing to play for. In the first half the Rojiblancos had started ferociously with Tiago hitting the side netting in the opening minutes, but when David Villa hit the crossbar later on it started to feel like one of those days.
Without Diego Costa, Atleti didn’t seem to pack a punch. Opportunities were scarce and fans had to wait until closely before the break until two Juanfran crosses led to chances, but both Koke and Raúl García missed excellent opportunities.
As time passed, the result stayed the same. Not only at the Vicente Calderón, but in Elche too, where Barcelona weren’t able of breaking down the local side. People were breaking down in Madrid, where supporters endured a nerve wracking game. Things got worse after an hour of play when our two favorite Belgians lost focus and conceded a goal. Toby Alderweireld, without an opponent in sight, completely missed an interception, which is why Thibaut Courtois rushed out. But Tibu arrived too late and was beaten by Samuel, who then headed the ball into the abandoned goal.
Immediately the Calderón crowd rose up to support their team and it wasn’t long before Atleti bounced back. Within a few minutes the Colchoneros tied the game when Toby Alderweireld redeemed himself by heading in the equalizer.
With the game in Elche still tied, Atleti had the opportunity to finally pull away and take the league. But without Costa, Atleti struggled to create opportunities. It wasn’t until the added time when Cholo’s men threatened Caballero’s goal again. First José Sosa curled a free kick just inches wide – Angeleri was sent off for committing his second bookable offence – and then, in the 95th minute, Adrián was denied a place in Atlético’s history books.
Real Madrid’s 2-0 loss to Celta means this is now a two horse race, one that’s coming down to a clash of epic proportions when Barcelona and Atlético Madrid face each other at the Camp Nou next week.
|Alderweireld 74'||Samuel 66'|
|11 May 2014|
|Raúl García (63')|
|Santa Cruz (76')|