It wasn't pretty, it was definitely nervy, but for Atlético Madrid, all that matters is the win. Thanks to a blind header from Raúl Garcia late in the first half, Los Colchoneros escaped the Mestalla with a 1-0 win over Valencia. Atléti are now just two wins away from winning their first La Liga title since 1991.
You got the feeling that Atlético Madrid would find a goal in the first half, but after 42 minutes of close calls and fairly dominate play, it didn't appear to be in the cards. Valencia played extremely tough, going toe-to-toe with Atléti physically, but a moment of brilliance undid all the work in the 43rd minute.
The always smooth and dependable Gabi lofted a cross into the middle of the Valencia box where García got between two defenders and pulled off a lovely blind header, looping the ball up and over Vicente Guaita into the corner of the net to give Atléti a 1-0 lead.
Guaita was tested in the 52nd minute when Diego Costa broke free at the midfield and received a pass, allowing the Atléti striker to break one-on-one with the Valencia keeper. Guaita made himself as big as possible, coming off his line to limit Costa's angles, but was ultimately saved by Costa's poor shot that went right into the core of the goalkeeper's body.
Valencia had their chances to equalize, but just couldn't get their shots on target. Jonas had a short range header blocked in the 64th minute, and in the 74th minute, Sofiane Feghouli took a deft touch just inside the corner of the 18-yard-box and fired a shot that went just wide of the far post.
Costa was again denied by Guaita in the 85th minute as he tried to round the keeper after breaking free on the right side of the box. The Valencia keeper was again up to the task, getting down and blocking the ball off of Costa's foot.
Atléti defender Juanfran took some of the joy off the victory, earning a straight red card in stoppage time after a tackle from behind on Pablo Piatti. Juanfran's tackle was late and he raked his studs on Piatti's calf, so despite the protestations of Atléti players, it was an easy decision for the referee.
Valencia: Guaita, Pereira, Costa, Mathieu, Gayá, Piatti, Jonas (Cartabia 82'), Fuego, Barragan (Feghouli (62'), Parejo (Vargas 53'), Alcacer
Atlético Madrid: Courtois, Filipe Luis, Godín, Miranda, Juanfran, Tiago, Gabi, Koke, García (Sosa 69' (Alderweireld 90')), David Villa (Turan 59'), Diego Costa
Goals: García (43')