Soccer: History of Atletico Madrid

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Espanyol capped its centenary celebrations by winning the Spanish Cup with a 2-1victory over Atletico Madrid on Saturday. One of the cheekiest goals seen inSpain all season gave the Barcelona club an ideal start after just two minutes.

Atletico goalkeeper Toni Jimenez — who moved to the club from Espanyol lastsummer — saved a shot by Toni Velamazan and was bouncing the ball in front ofhim, ready to boot it upfield. But then Raul Tamudo nipped in unseen, headed theball away from Jimenez and beat his former team mate in a sprint across the faceof the goal, turning the ball in from an narrow angle out on the left. SergioGonzalez hit Espanyol’s second goal five minutes from time to ensure the clubwon its first honor for 60 years Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink pulled one back forAtletico a minute into injury time, and Espanyol endured an anxious couple ofminutes as the clocked ticked away, but it was too little too late. Espanyolecstasy For Espanyol supporters, it brought a huge smile to their faces after adecade of despair. They were relegated twice during the 1990s and even had tosell their ground — the historic Sarria stadium — in 1997 to solve a cashcrisis. However Espanyol’s veteran defender Nando Munoz put the emotions of allthose involved with the club into words. “This might be the greatest day inthe history of Espanyol. This is for all those fans and everyone else who canremember the bad times — all those dire moments,” Nando said. Nando hadrecovered enough breath to speak to Spanish to reporters because he had beengiven his marching orders 13 minutes from time after picking up two yellow cardsin quick succession while Espanyol fought to contain a second half Atleticocomeback. Atletico attack The first half belonged to Espanyol, with Tamudo andVelamazan causing plenty of problems for the Atletico defenders and MoisesArteaga slicing through the middle, but the second period saw Atletico strivefor an equalizer. Hasselbaink was a constant threat, although Espanyol defendersdid a good job of soaking up the pressure, and his closest efforts came fromedge-of-the-area free kicks. After Nando left the field, Espanyol looked brieflyin trouble, but both teams ended the match with 10 men after former Spanishinternational defender Santi Denia lost control completely seven minutes fromtime. Denia scythed down Manuel Serrano from the rear and then headbutted ToniVelamazan. Sergio’s clincher came two minutes later. Tears He controlled a long,speculative, ball forward with his head and then blasted the half-volley pastthe hapless Jimenez, who left the field inconsolable. “Football just isn’tfair,” Jimenez wailed, with tears streaming down his face. Jimenez was notthe only Atletico player to leave the field with moist eyes. The cup finaldefeat, their second in successive years after losing 3-0 to Valencia last year,brought an end to one of the worst season’s in club history. Atletico wasrelegated and will spend next season in the Spanish second division for thefirst time since 1934. A damaging government investigation into the clubfinances also left the club badly demoralized on and off the field. The cupfinal is likely to be the last match that many players, including Hasselbaink,have in an Atletico jersey, with a massive exodus anticipated.

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