Diego Simeone hailed one of the most important days in the history of Atletico Madrid, while Gerardo Martino bid farewell to Barcelona after a tense title decider went Atletico’s way at the Nou Camp.
Diego Godin’s header early in the second half cancelled out Alexis Sanchez’s 34th minute wonder strike, and a 1-1 draw saw Atletico hang on to their three-point advantage at the top of the table.
And while Atletico were celebrating on the pitch, the players tossing Simeone in the air, Martino was down the tunnel and saying his farewells. Martino shuffled off stage as Simeone was gathering himself following exuberant celebrations before holding his own press conference.
Asked about the key to their success, Simeone said: "It was the work-rate, which was never negotiable. We always aimed to have no debt to anyone but ourselves. I think the team always knew what was possible and I think today is sure to be one of the most important days in the history of the club. To leave Barcelona as champions, there is only joy."
Amid the celebrations, there were only a few details of the injuries suffered early in the first half by key men Diego Costa and Arda Turan, leaving both men doubtful for next weekend’s Champions League final against Real Madrid. The club said Costa had suffered a recurrence of his hamstring injury, while Turan had a pelvic injury. There was no word on their status for next week at this stage.
"It was a very hard game," Atletico’s on-loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois told Sky Sports 1. "I think not a lot of people gave us a chance after last week’s draw because Barca just had to win at home and they were really ready for this game. After 20 minutes we lost two important players and we went 1-0 behind, but in the second half you saw how we came back. We had to suffer but we suffered and we won."
Courtois added: "This is the story of Atletico Madrid. For so many years Madrid and Barca had all the money, they buy a lot of good players but we had to find another way. We had good players, not the best but we worked harder, suffered in training and had good tactics. You can achieve good things.
"The supporters of Atletico have had difficult years but now they can have some great years and hopefully next week we can give them another trophy."