Atletico win Champions League spot

14 May 2022 | 08:58 | Football

Atletico Madrid’s Matheus Cunha celebrates scoring his first goal. Photo: Reuters


Atletico Madrid’s Matheus Cunha celebrates scoring his first goal. Photo: Reuters

Atletico Madrid secured a Champions League spot on Wednesday as Elche’s 2-0 win secured their spot in the top four of La Liga.

Matheus Cunha and Rodrigo De Paul are both targets as Atletico are six points clear of Real Betis in fifth place, with two games remaining. Atletico also has a superior head-to-head record compared to Betis.

However, Sevilla failed to secure a top-four spot as the previous team’s poor finish continued with a goalless draw at home to struggling Mallorca.

Atletico look set to now finish in third and although their defense of the title has been excruciatingly disappointing – they are 14 points behind Real Madrid – Diego Simeone’s side have at least avoided the challenge. miss out on the Champions League, which for a while seemed very realistically possible.

“I am very happy for the players,” said Simeone. “It was a season of ups and downs, with the Champions League when we played very well and a La Liga where we couldn’t maintain our consistency.

“It was not what we imagined but we have achieved our goal – the Champions League in a year, which is very important for the club.”

In December, Atletico lost four consecutive matches for the first time under Simeone, to a defeat to Levante, bottom of the table, causing negotiations between the coach and the players to come to a screeching halt in February.

But five consecutive wins in March is crucial and while there has been another slump in recent weeks, Atletico have done just enough to qualify for the Champions League for the 10th year in a row.

Cunha is back home
Cunha gave Atleti the lead in the 28th minute when Antoine Griezmann picked up Renan Lodi’s cross to the left and Cunha was in the right position to deflect a cross to the near post.

The visitors took a two-goal lead just after an hour, with De Paul finishing off a superb move after a clever exchange with Lodi, who once again penetrated the Elche defence.

Atletico play at home on Sunday against Sevilla, whose game against Mallorca at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan should only postpone qualifying when they are five points ahead of Betis, with two games remaining.

Sevilla will need just one more point to secure a finish against Betis, as they also have a better head-to-head record against their city rivals.

But Julen Lopetegui’s side have two tough finals, with a trip to the Wanda Metropolitano next Sunday before their final home game against Athletic Bilbao.

And even as they take the lead, Sevilla are ending what was once a promising campaign with a groan, after just three current wins in their last 12 games in all competitions.

There were whistles from the home fans while Mallorca was also hardly satisfied with a draw. They are 18th, two points above safety, with Cadiz up front playing an away game against Real Sociedad on Thursday.

Sevilla had a better chance overall but Mallorca was far from overpowered and should have taken the lead when Vedat Muriqi’s header was swiped away by Bono.

Anthony Martial shot from close range for Sevilla in the second half but their best chance came in injury time when Youssef En-Nesyri connected well with a header, only to be saved by the brilliant Mallorca goalkeeper Manolo Reina. .