Luis Suárez knew success wouldn’t come easy at Atlético Madrid.
He didn’t expect it to be this hard, though.
Suárez came to the rescue for Atlético when its Spanish league title chances suddenly appeared to be slipping away on Sunday, scoring an 88th-minute winner in a 2-1 victory against Osasuna that moved the team a win away from claiming its first league title since 2014.
“We have to get used to the fact that to win this league you have to suffer,” Suárez said. “Everybody says that's part of Atlético's motto (to suffer), but I didn't think it would be that much.”
Atlético enters the final round two points in front of Real Madrid, which stayed in contention by winning 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao. Madrid has a better head-to-head tiebreaker against its city rival.
Barcelona dropped out of contention for the title after losing 2-1 to Celta Vigo at home.
Atlético's lengthy spell at the top of the league disappeared in only a few minutes late in the second-to-last round, when all matches were played at the same time.
Madrid scored against Athletic in the 68th minute, then Atlético conceded against Osasuna in the 75th. Instead of being in the position of celebrating its first league title in seven years, Atlético suddenly saw its city rival take control of the title race ahead of the final round.
Only a victory could have put Atlético back in control of its own fate, and Diego Simeone's team got it after Renan Lodi scored from inside the area in the 82nd and Suárez netted the winner with a low shot from near the penalty spot a few minutes from the end.
It was the 20th league goal for Suárez, who has been key for Atlético the entire season after being let go by Barcelona.
The several hundred Atlético fans outside the Wanda Metropolitano cheered loudly and could be heard from inside after Suárez's decisive goal. He took out his jersey as he rushed to celebrate with his teammates.
“We didn't deserve to suffer like we did in the end after one of our best performances in the first half this season,” he said.
Atlético, which squandered several chances throughout the match, can clinch the title against relegation-threatened Valladolid in the final round. Madrid will host seventh-place Villarreal hoping for a stumble by its rival.
Atlético is trying to win its 11th league title, and first since it took on Madrid and Barcelona with a squad led by Diego Costa and Arda Turan. Since 2014, Barcelona has won the league four times and Madrid twice, including last season. Atlético’s previous title had come in 1996, when Simeone still played for the club.