International Soccer

Atletico clinches title with draw at Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain ( - Atletico Madrid defied the odds to get a 1-1 draw at Barcelona on Saturday and clinch its first La Liga title since 1996.

Atletico was dealt a major blow in the early going as Diego Simeone was forced to make two substitutions inside the opening 22 minutes. Star striker Diego Costa limped off the pitch early in the match with a muscle injury while Arda Turan followed to the bench shortly after.

The Catalans piled more misery on the visitors by taking the lead in the 32nd minute. Alexis Sanchez took a layoff from Lionel Messi and rifled a shot into the upper corner from a tough angle, putting Barcelona in the driver's seat with an emphatic strike.

But Atletico regrouped during the halftime interval and nearly equalized in the opening minute of the second period when David Villa's left-footed strike struck the post.

The visitors continued to heap pressure on Barcelona in the early stages of the second half and got their just reward in the 49th minute when Diego Godin rose high to meet a corner kick and send a powerful header past Jose Manuel Pinto.

Messi thought he had restored Barcelona's lead in the 64th minute when he fired home a through ball from Cesc Fabregas, but the goal was disallowed with the Argentine being ruled offside.

Barcelona continued to throw numbers forward, but Atletico defended admirably and closed out the match to secure the title with a heroic performance.

Atletico can add a Champions League title to its trophy cabinet on May 24 by defeating Real Madrid, which closed out its La Liga campaign with a 3-1 win over Espanyol at the Bernabeu on Saturday.

The match was scoreless until the 64th minute when Gareth Bale broke the deadlock for the home side. Alvaro Morata's 86th-minute strike extended Real Madrid's lead before Pizzi pulled one back in the 90th minute, but Morata answered just a minute later to complete his brace and seal all three points for the hosts.

And in Saturday's final La Liga contest, Sofiane Feghouli and Pablo Piatti overturned Valencia's early deficit to give the club a 2-1 win over Celta Vigo.

05/17 17:55:58 ET

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