Fernando Torres ended his career at the club he has supported since childhood by grabbing both goals in Atletico Madrid’s 2-2 draw with Eibar at the Wanda Metropolitano.
A victory in their final match of the season would have been the end of a perfect week for the club after winning the Europa League on Wednesday and being confirmed as runners-up in La Liga following Real Madrid’s 2-2 draw away to Villarreal on Saturday. However, a stunning equaliser from Ruben Pena put a small dent on an evening that was all about the man they call “El Nino”.
Having defeated Marseille 3-0 in Lyon on Wednesday, Diego Simeone decided to play a second string side for Sunday’s match. With an added commemorative patch on the players’ shirts honouring the striker, Fernando Torres was given the captain’s armband for the match.
Jan Oblak, Angel Correa, Gabi, Saul, and Koke were the only players who started during Wednesday’s final that kept their places for Sunday evening’s clash, with Torres, Vitolo, Filipe Luis, Lucas, Stefan Savic and Juanfran making up the starting 11.
One of the surprise packages of the season, Eibar, went into the match having picked up 10 of the last 15 points available, picking up wins over Las Palmas, Girona, and Espanyol.
José Luis Mendilibar made three changes to the side that defeated Las Palmas 1-0 last weekend, with Pape Diop, Takashi Inui and Charles making way for Gonzalo Escalante, Ivan Alejo and Kike Garcia.
After what seemed a quiet affair for the first half hour of the match, it was the visitors that broke the deadlock in the 35th minute. A Joan Jordan through ball was met by Kike, whose left-footed shot found the bottom right corner to make it 1-0 to Eibar. The lead lasted only seven minutes however, as Angel Correa collected the ball from a fast break and played it to Torres to tap in the equaliser.
Eibar could have had a penalty early in the second half when a cross hit Lucas’ arm. With the introduction of video replays in July, you could say the Frenchman, at the time, was a very lucky man.
Torres grabbed both his and Atleti’s second of the game in the 60th minute, receiving a through ball from substitute Diego Costa and finding the net, scoring his 129th and final goal for Los Colchoneros.
The stage was set for the 34-year old to leave the pitch for the final time following his goal, however Lucas received a second yellow card for a bad foul on Ivan Alejo, and Diego Simeone decided to let the striker continue, with Jose Gimenez replacing Vitolo to ensure Atleti weren’t struggling defensively.
Eibar made the one-man advantage count however, and grabbed an equaliser in the 70th minute when Pena hammered in a long-range shot to secure a point for the visitors.
Following the final whistle, Torres received a guard of honour from his teammates and coaching staff.
Atleti finish the 17/18 season in second place. Collecting 79 points, they end up three points ahead of neighbours Real who end the season on 76.
Eibar end the season in ninth position of La Liga, collecting 51 points.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak, Juanfran, Savic, Lucas, Filipe Luis; Correa (D. Costa, 59), Gabi, Saul, Vitolo (Gimenez, 66); Koke (Griezmann, 59), Torres
Eibar: Dmitrovic; R. Pena, Oliveira, Lomban (Arbilla, 66), Jose Angel; Escalante, Carrillo, Alejo (Charles, 78), Jordan, Orellana; Kike (Regis, 93)