MADRID: Atletico Madrid could not have chosen a more appropriate way in which to secure their first Spanish league title since 1996.
Diego Simeone’s team wrapped up an exciting title chase by going to champions Barcelona and seizing the draw which dethroned the Catalans in front of their own fans.
The mutual results countback system of the Spanish league meant Barcelona needed to win while a draw sufficed for Atletico; they achieved it with a 66th-minute goal from Diego Godin after Barcelona had taken a 33rd-minute lead through Chilean Alexis Sanchez.
Barcelona continued crumbling after the game. Already the impending departures of goalkeeper Victor Valdes and captain Carles Pujol were known and coach Gerardo Martino waited barely an hour before confirming expectations that he, too, is leaving after one season. Favourite to succeed him is ex-Barcelona and Real Madrid midfielder Luis Enrique who has just taken Celta Vigo to eighth place in La Liga.
Martino replaced the late Tito Villanova at Camp Nou last summer but the Spanish Super Cup was the only silverware he managed to claim amid a turbulent season undermined by events off the pitch with the enforced exit of Sandro Rosell as president and the financial controversy over the signing of Brazilian superstar Neymar last year.
The 51-year-old said: “In agreement with the club I am no longer the coach. I deeply regret not having achieved the goals that this club has always been set and achieved. These are great players. My greatest gratitude goes to the players. They have made me proud.”
Real Madrid finished third after concluding their season with a 3-1 home win over Espanyol on goals from Gareth Bale and Alvaro Morata (two).
Atletico face Real in the Champions League Final in Lisbon next Saturday.
In Germany Bayern Munich beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 after extra time in the cup final in Berlin to secure their 10th domestic double. Arjen Robben and Thomas Muller scored the goals.