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Atletico and Barcelona set for title showdown

Atletico Madrids Argentinian coach Diego Simeone talks to his midfielder Juanfran and captain Gabi. Picture: AFP/Getty

Atletico Madrids Argentinian coach Diego Simeone talks to his midfielder Juanfran and captain Gabi. Picture: AFP/Getty

  • by MASSIMO MARZOCCHI
 

An OUTSTANDING save by Malaga goalkeeper Willy Caballero denied Atletico Madrid the opportunity to wrap up the Primera Division title at their Vicente Calderon stadium.

The Argentine goalkeeper produced a fingertip save to keep out a curling shot from Adrian in the final minute of stoppage time, ensuring the game ended in a 1-1 draw. It sets up a mouthwatering showdown between Atletico and their nearest title rivals Barcelona next Saturday, with Diego Simeone’s side only requiring a point to lift their first league title in 18 years.

Barcelona played their part in setting up a winner-takes-all clash against Atletico on the last day of the season after they drew 0-0 against strugglers Elche.

The results mean Barca and Atletico will face each other at the Nou Camp in a Primera Division title showdown, with only a win enough for Gerardo Martino’s side to claim the league honours. Atletico lead Barca by three points following the two draws yesterday but victory for Barca would give them their 23rd Liga crown on head-to-head record, having drawn with Atletico earlier in the season.

Celta Vigo ended any lingering hopes Real Madrid had of league glory by claiming a 2-0 victory over Carlo Ancelotti’s men at Estadio Balaidos.

Celta claimed their third win on the bounce after Brazilian forward Charles capitalised on two errors from Real to bag a brace and leave the visitors five points behind leaders Atletico with just one match remaining.

At the other end of the table, Almeria gave themselves a great chance of avoiding relegation from the Primera Division with a 2-0 victory over 
fellow strugglers Granada. Almeria had climbed out of the bottom three with two straight wins and made it three thanks to penalties from Verza and Aleix Vidal. That lifted them three points above the relegation zone with only one game remaining and a point ahead of Granada, who had Jeison Murillo sent off.

Getafe took advantage of a weakened Sevilla side to claim a vital victory in their fight against relegation. Sergio Escudero’s 70th-minute goal gave them a 1-0 victory to help them climb three points clear of the bottom three with one match to play.

Real Sociedad striker Imanol Agirretxe struck late to ensure the Basque Country derby ended 1-1, spoiling Athletic Bilbao’s celebrations after their qualification for the Champions League. Iker Muniain’s goal from 25 yards gave the hosts the lead to create a party atmosphere at San Mames Barria, but Agirretxe denied 
Athletic what would have been their first derby win for two years by scoring on 75 minutes.

Espanyol drew 1-1 with relegation battlers Osasuna, when Diego Colotto’s opener was cancelled out by Javier Acuna Caballero before the half-time whistle.

Meanwhile, already demoted Real Betis beat second bottom Real Valladolid 4-3 through Juanfran’s late winner.

 

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