Atletico Madrid 1 Real Valladolid 0: Joaquin own goal keeps Barcelona waiting

Barcelona will have to beat Levante to be champion this weekend, with Atletico Madrid having scraped a 1-0 win over Real Valladolid.

Atletico Madrid players celebrate against Real Valladolid   -  Getty Images

Atletico Madrid kept its LaLiga title challenge alive for a little while longer with a 1-0 victory over Real Valladolid at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Defeat on Saturday would have made Barcelona champion before it kicked a ball this weekend, but a second-half own goal from Joaquin Fernandez gave Atletico a win that means the leader must beat Levante later in order to guarantee the title.

The goal was an unfortunate moment in an otherwise strong performance from the visitor, which could find itself back in the relegation zone if other results now go against it.

There were more bookings (four) than shots on target (three) in a poor first half, with Jan Oblak making one good save to deny Sergi Guardiola from 20 yards out.

 

Antoine Griezmann could not quite steer a shot into the right-hand corner after good play from Alvaro Morata, but Atleti was struggling to control the pace of the game without Rodrigo in central midfield, and he was introduced at half-time for the ineffective Thomas Partey.

Atleti's increasing pressure was still yielding few chances until 65 minutes in, when Saul Niguez's good run and cross from the left saw Joaquin head the ball into his own net.

Oblak superbly kept out a fierce Oscar Plano strike as Valladolid pushed for a leveller, and there was a moment of controversy two minutes before the end of normal time when referee Mario Melero Lopez opted not to award the visitor a penalty for handball despite checking the VAR monitor.

Miguel de la Fuente was denied by another strong Oblak save in injury time, as Atletico just about managed to keep the pressure on the leader.

Barcelona has a chance to win the LaLiga title in front of its own fans for the first time since 2011.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

What does it mean? Title race is just about alive

As it stands now, Ernesto Valverde's Barca will need to beat Levante later on Saturday if it is to secure the title this weekend, meaning Atleti is still just about in the race.

It could be a costly defeat for Valladolid, though, which will drop into the bottom three if Girona beats Sevilla on Sunday.

Oblak unflappable

The host's goalkeeper did not have a huge amount of work to do, but he made three excellent saves and his handling was typically assured.

Thomas the tank engine

Thomas summed up Atleti's laboured first half, offering little control in midfield and earning a booking for a poor challenge on Guardiola. He was replaced at the break.

Key Opta Facts

- Atletico has scored a least once in all its 24 home games this season in all competitions (47 goals).
- Javi Moyano's yellow card after 25 seconds was the fourth-quickest in a La Liga game in the last decade.
- Diego Simeone has won his six La Liga games as a coach against Valladolid by an aggregate score of 14-3.

What's next?

Atleti heads to Espanyol next Saturday, the day before Valladolid hosts Athletic Bilbao.