Madrid: Atletico Madrid delayed Barcelona winning La Liga by a few days at least after Alvaro Morata and Antoine Griezmann each scored in a 3-2 victory over Valencia.
Defeat at the Wanda Metropolitano would have crowned Barca kings of Spain for a 26th time in their history, with the Catalans now set to celebrate at their own Camp Nou on Saturday instead.
A Barcelona win there over Levante will wrap up their fourth league triumph in five years and they could even be home and dry before kick-off, if Atletico fail to take a point at home to struggling Real Valladolid earlier in the day.
Regardless, success for Ernesto Valverde’s side is surely now only a matter of timing given Atletico remain nine points behind the leaders with four games left to play. Real Madrid, who visit Getafe on Thursday, are 16 adrift.
If Getafe win, they will also move five points ahead of Valencia, whose chances of snatching fourth place and Champions League qualification would now appear remote.
But there will be some satisfaction at least for Atletico in making Barcelona win it on their own terms while also avoiding the embarrassment of conceding the title with a loss in front of their home fans.
Angel Correa’s stunning strike in the 81st minute proved the winner after Valencia had fought back, Kevin Gameiro and a Dani Parejo penalty twice pulling them level after goals from Morata and Griezmann.
Morata’s early strike continued his excellent form since his move to Atletico in January, his finish at the back post taking his tally to six goals in 13 games for the club.
Griezmann, meanwhile, back from suspension, now has 25 goals in all competitions this season, an impressive return, particularly in a side not renowned for its creativity.