MADRID, Spain, May 21 – Fernando Torres was the fitting match winner as Atletico Madrid waved goodbye to their Vicente Calderon stadium by beating Athletic Bilbao 3-1 on Sunday.
Atletico were playing their final competitive match at their home for the past 50 years before moving to the new 67,000 capacity Wanda Metropolitano stadium on the other side of Madrid next season.
And fans’ favourite Torres ensured Atletico got three points to go along with a carnival atmosphere with a double inside the opening 11 minutes.
“It is difficult to express the feelings that you experience on a day like this,” Torres to BeIN Sports Spain.
“It was very emotional during the whole game. With the fans there were memories of many moments we have experienced here since we were kids.”
Torres, 33, volleyed home Antoine Griezmann’s cushioned header to open the scoring before kissing the Atletico badge.
Three minutes later Griezmann was again involved as this time his pass was headed into Torres’s path by Koke for an acrobatic finish.
Torres, who is in his second spell at the club having broken into the first team as a teenager back in 2001, could yet leave Atletico this summer with his contract set to expire in June.
And he was denied potentially the perfect send-off when a spectacular goal-line clearance from Aymeric Laporte prevented Torres from completing his hat-trick.
Torres was replaced moments later to a standing ovation before the visitors threatened to spoil the party when Inaki Williams rounded off a fine team move 20 minutes from time.
However, Angel Correa added a third for Atletico a minute from time.
Atletico had already secured third place in La Liga for a third straight season, but defeat in what is expected to be coach Ernesto Valverde’s final game before taking over at Barcelona next season means Bilbao miss out on qualifying for the Europa League.
Real Sociedad leapfrogged their Basque rivals into sixth thanks to Juanmi’s 93rd minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo.
Bilbao could be handed a reprieve, though, and make the Europa League if Barcelona beat Alaves in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday.
Villarreal sealed fifth place with a 3-1 win at Valencia.
The title will be decided later on Sunday as Real Madrid just need to avoid defeat at Malaga to see off Barcelona, who host Eibar.