Late Suárez goal moves Atlético 1 win from league title

·4 min read

MADRID (AP) — Just when Atlético Madrid's title chances appeared to be slipping away, Luis Suárez came to the rescue.

Suárez scored an 88th-minute winner as Atlético rallied to beat Osasuna 2-1 on Sunday and move one win away from claiming its first Spanish league title since 2014.

Atlético enters the final round two points in front of Real Madrid, which stayed in contention by winning 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao. Madrid has a better head-to-head tiebreaker against its city rival.

Barcelona dropped out of contention for the title after losing 2-1 to Celta Vigo at home.

Atlético, which has led for most of the season, at one point on Sunday was down in second place — dropping points at home while Madrid was winning in Bilbao.

Only a victory could have put Diego Simeone's team back in control of its own fate, and Atlético got it with two late goals after Osasuna had taken the lead through Ante Budimir in the 75th minute. Atlético rallied with a goal by Renan Lodi in the 82nd and Suárez's winner from near the penalty spot in the final minutes of the game.

Atlético’s last match is against relegation-threatened Valladolid, while Madrid hosts seventh-place Villarreal.

MADRID STAYS ALIVE

Trying to win back-to-back league trophies for the first time since 2007-08, Madrid took the title race to the final round thanks to its win against midtable Athletic at San Mamés Stadium.

Defender Nacho Fernández scored the winner from close range in the 68th after a pass from Casemiro.

The victory came amid widespread rumors that Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is leaving the club at the end of the season. Some reports in Spanish media said Sunday that he has already told the squad of his intention to quit.

BARCELONA FALLS

Barcelona’s home loss comes in another disappointing season for the club in which it only lifted the Copa del Rey.

Messi scored his league-leading 30th goal with a 28th-minute header at the Camp Nou Stadium, but Santi Mina equalized for the visitors with a shot from outside the area in the 38th and netted the winner in the 89th. Barcelona played a man down from the 83rd after defender Clément Lenglet was sent off.

The Catalan club has been marred by political turmoil and financial difficulties prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

This could be its last season with Messi, who still hasn’t announced if he will continue at the club after having his request to leave denied at the end of last season. His contract expires after this season.

Barcelona, looking for its third league title in four seasons, could still be surpassed by Sevilla for third place. Barcelona visits already relegated Eibar in the final round.

FANS RETURN

Fans were back for the first time in two stadiums in Spanish regions where the coronavirus pandemic is considered to be more under control.

It didn’t take long for Valencia supporters to celebrate at Mestalla Stadium as Gonçalo Guedes scored for the host team three minutes into the 4-1 win against last-place Eibar.

There were also fans at Villarreal’s home game against Sevilla, which it won 4-0.

No more than 5,000 home fans were allowed in either stadium, and social distancing had to be maintained at all times.

Hundreds of Atlético fans were outside the Wanda Metropolitano in hopes of celebrating the team's title.

EUROPEAN SPOTS

Real Sociedad stayed in position to secure a Europa League spot with a comfortable 4-1 win over Valladolid. That left the club in fifth place, one point in front of both sixth-place Real Betis and seventh-place Villarreal.

Carlos Bacca scored a hat trick and Gerard Moreno added another for Villareal, which played with a man advantage from the 52nd as Sevilla defender Diego Carlos was sent off.

Sevilla, with fourth-place and a Champions League spot already secured, is three points away from breaking the club record of 76 points in a single league campaign. That was achieved in 2014-15 under then coach Unai Emery, who is now with Villarreal.

The sixth-place team only qualifies for the Europa League if Villarreal doesn’t win this year’s final against Manchester United on May 26. If it does win, Villarreal will automatically qualify for the Champions League, and the sixth-place team in Spain will have to play in the new Europa Conference.

Real Betis stayed in contention by beating Huesca 1-0 at home.

RELEGATION FIGHT

Last-place Eibar was relegated after the loss to Valencia, while Huesca, Valladolid and Elche will fight to avoid demotion in the final round.

Eibar had played in the first division for seven straight seasons.

Getafe made sure of avoiding relegation thanks to an 84th-minute winner by Japan forward Takefusa Kubo in the 2-1 win against Levante at home.

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press

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