Atletico Madrid went within a whisker of clinching the Liga title, but they were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw at home to Malaga, which sets up a decider against Barcelona next weekend.
With Barcelona drawing at Elche, a win would have clinched the title for Atletico, but they were denied by a spirited Malaga—and the fingertips of keeper Willy Caballero.
Atleti made a bright start, but David Villa took possession like a forward short on goals, as he collected a flick on from Raul Garcia but fired his shot against the bar.
Villa last scored on March 8 [12 apps since & lots and lots of balls of post and bar...]— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) May 11, 2014
Chances were thin on the ground for Atletico in the opening half, and Koke stabbed a shot wide following a great piece of play from Juanfran.
On 53 minutes, a big chance fell the way of Villa but Caballero produced a fine reflex save to thwart the former Spain international.
As Atleti began to throw men forward, gaps opened up at the other end, and Malaga had a massive chance to take the lead on the hour.
Former Blackburn Rovers forward Roque Santa Cruz was set clear on goal, but Thibaut Courtois sensed the danger and raced off his line to make a smothering save.
Atletico did not heed the warning, and Malaga edged ahead on 65 minutes. The home side were the architects of their own downfall, as Toby Alderweireld made a mess of a routine clearance. Samuel Garcia went in search of the ball and was able to nod a loose ball into the net.
To Atletico’s credit, they responded well and Alderweireld atoned for his earlier mistake by powering a header beyond Caballero to level the scores.
Atletico Madrid: Only Athletic Bilbao (18) have scored more headed goals in La Liga this season than Atletico Madrid (17) #Atleti— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) May 11, 2014
Atletico went in search of the goal that would bring them the title, with Barcelona level with Elche, and they came within inches of getting the job done.
With Malaga down to 10 men following the controversial dismissal of Marcos Angeleri, Adrian cut in from the left and curled the ball towards the top corner. The ball looked destined to take the title, but Caballero somehow dived to his left to make a quite brilliant save:
Esta increíble atajada de Caballero, hace que la Liga se defina en el Camp Nou. https://t.co/2Qts8sAWI9— Fútbol Europeo (@Futbool_Europeo) May 11, 2014
The title race will now go to the wire, and what a decider it will be. Barcelona entertain Atletico, with the contest being a winner-take-all encounter. Barcelona trail by three points, but a win will be enough for them to take the title. A draw or win will be enough for Atleti to lift the crown.
Atletico have their destiny in their own hands, as do Barca, and they will go to Camp Nou ready for battle.
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