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Soccer-Late Suarez strike sends Atletico to brink of title

·3-min read

MADRID (Reuters) -Atletico Madrid took a giant step towards the La Liga title in dramatic circumstances by fighting their way back to beat Osasuna 2-1 at home on Sunday thanks to a late strike from Luis Suarez.

Atletico dominated the game and hit the woodwork twice in the first half before having two goals ruled out for offside but fell behind in the 76th minute when a bullet header from Ante Budimir crossed the line before Jan Oblak could punch it away.

Atletico hit back with an emphatic finish from substitute Renan Lodi in the 82nd minute while top scorer Suarez completed the comeback by firing home from inside the area in the 88th, netting for the first time in six matches.

Diego Simeone's side nearly conceded an equaliser deep into added time though when Chimy Avila caught sight of goal but Oblak got across to parry before grabbing the ball with both hands.

The victory took Atletico on to 83 points after 37 games, two ahead of second-placed Real Madrid who won 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao.

Atletico visit relegation-fighting Real Valladolid on the final day of the season next Sunday knowing victory will deliver them a first title since 2014. Real, meanwhile, will host Villarreal.

"It was a moment of pure happiness," Suarez said of his winner.

"We didn't deserve to suffer like we did, it was one of our best first-half performances of the season but we missed so many chances, me more than anyone. But to win La Liga you have to suffer and that's what we had to do today."

Suarez also admitted his side had been trying to keep up with events in Bilbao and that their nerves nearly got the better of them.

"In the water break we heard Real were winning and sometimes the tension gets the better of you but we kept our patience and kept on creating chances," he added.

"Now we have to win at Valladolid in the most important game of the season."

Atletico knew before kick off they would clinch the title with a victory if neighbours Real failed to win in Bilbao and several thousand fans flocked to the Wanda Metropolitano even though they were not allowed in due to coronavirus restrictions.

As they had done in Wednesday's 2-1 win over Real Sociedad, Atletico came flying out of the blocks in search of a goal.

WASTEFUL SUAREZ

Atletico's first clear chance fell to Suarez but the Uruguayan scuffed his shot inside the area and Herrera saved well. Suarez then wasted an even more glaring effort, hitting the post from only a few metres out with Herrera beaten.

Saul Niguez then also hit the post shortly before halftime with a long range effort.

Atletico managed to find the net in the second half when Stefan Savic knocked in a free kick but the goal was ruled out for offside while Carrasco also netted a few minutes later only to have his effort chalked off.

The title looked to be slipping from Atletico's fingers when Croatian forward Budimir beat Oblak, just as Real took the lead in Bilbao.

But Simeone's side responded perfectly with two goals in the space of six minutes to stay in charge of their own destiny.

"We had a lot of chances but we weren't clinical until they went ahead and it was only then when we responded," said Simeone.

"When we had the most chances we had least composure and when we had only a couple opportunities left that was when we were most clinical."

(Reporting by Richard MartinEditing by Toby Davis)

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