Atletico Madrid claimed their 11th La Liga title as Angel Correa and Luis Suarez inspired a 2-1 comeback victory over Real Valladolid on a tense final day of 2020-21.
With second-placed Real Madrid facing Villarreal, Diego Simeone's men needed a win to guarantee the title, but their hopes hung in the balance when Oscar Plana put relegation-battling Valladolid ahead.
But Correa's superb solo effort restored parity, with a glaring miss from Shon Weissman at the other end setting the stage for Suarez to complete the turnaround.
Real Madrid produced a late turnaround to win 2-1 but finished two points behind their city rivals in the table.
The pressure on Atleti's shoulders was reflected in a frantic start from the league leaders, with Suarez and Saul Niguez snatching at efforts before Valladolid struck.
In the 18th minute, a breakdown in Atleti's attack resulted in Marcos de Sousa feeding Plano who, after just keeping himself ahead of a glut of chasing defenders, slotted coolly beyond Jan Oblak.
Jawad El Yamiq nearly handed Atleti a reprieve with what would have been a calamitous own goal, and with Weissman having squandered a chance to double Valladolid's lead, Suarez went close after the restart, only for Saidy Janko to clear the Uruguayan's goal-bound header.
Yet the pressure finally told in the 57th minute.
It looked like the chance to shoot had gone when Correa took a heavy touch, yet nifty footwork created space between four defenders and the Argentine prodded a brilliant finish low into the right-hand corner.
Valladolid seemed all set to restore their lead just after the hour, only for Weissman to again miss a golden opportunity, heading over a gaping goal after Oblak had parried Lucas Olaza's strike.
Atleti made Valladolid pay, Suarez pouncing on Michel's sloppy pass to race clear and curl home the decisive blow, clinching Simeone's second LaLiga crown and condemning the hosts to the second tier.
What does it mean? Atleti get what they deserve
It has been eight years of LaLiga frustration for Atleti – who had hundreds of travelling fans outside the stadium in support – since Simeone guided them to the 2013-14 title.
Simeone has become the third coach to win two titles in the competition for the club, after Ricardo Zamora (1939-40 and 1940-41) and Helenio Herrera (1949-50 and 1950-51), and though Barcelona, Sevilla and Madrid all lodged tilts following shaky form from Atleti in 2021, their brilliant first half of the season – they lost just once in 22 league games – proved enough to see them over the line, with Madrid's last-ditch comeback against Villarreal proving fruitless.
Valladolid, meanwhile, needed a win to stand any chance of staying up, but a late chance for Sergi Guardiola to deny Atleti the title was squandered, and they will play in the second tier next season.
Signing of the season Suarez seals success
Who else would it have been? Lionel Messi was said to be furious when Barca decided to allow Suarez to leave, and the former Liverpool star has ultimately proved the difference in the title race.
His 21 league goals have been worth 22 points to Atleti, which is more than any other LaLiga player this season as it stands.
Weissman's misses spare Atleti
While they will not care one bit, Atleti might well have been commiserating an opportunity missed had Weissman kept his composure.
His first effort – one of two – was a header straight at Oblak, but it was his second that proved the most costly for Valladolid, and indeed Los Blancos, when he inexplicably directed his attempt over on the rebound from six yards out, with all of the goal to aim at, and within five minutes, Suarez had scored Atleti's title-winning goal.
Key Opta Facts
- Simeone has won his eighth title with Atleti – two LaLiga crowns (2013-14 and 2020-21), two Europa League triumphs (2012 and 2018), two UEFA Super Cups (2012 and 2018), one Copa del Rey (2013) and a Super Cup (2014).
- Simeone is the coach with the most titles in club history, surpassing Luis Aragones (seven).
- Atleti have won more points after losing than any other team in LaLiga in 2021 (17). They have made a come-back in seven of their 11 games in which they conceded the first goal of the game, winning five and drawing two.
- Correa has scored nine goals in 38 games in LaLiga this season, his best scoring tally in a single league campaign with Atleti.
- Valladolid have suffered relegation from LaLiga for the fourth time in the 21st century (2004, 2010, 2014 and 2021), more than any other team in the competition this century.
Atleti's season is over, but they can spend the time preparing for a 2021-22 campaign as defending champions, while Valladolid will be focused on an immediate return to LaLiga.