Former FC Barcelona striker Luis Suarez has been fully vindicated in his first year with Atletico Madrid. He scored the winning goal that handed his new club the La Liga Santander title just one season after he was effectively kicked out of Barcelona.

Suarez scored in the 67th minute against Valladolid on Saturday, taking the scoreline to 1-2 with Atletico in front. That goal effectively put them out of reach of rivals Real Madrid, even if the latter managed to win their match against Villarreal at the Estadio Alfredo di Stefano.

Suarez said that he felt grateful for the trust that his new coach and employers gave him, ever after FC Barcelona released him last summer because they thought he was no longer a top-level player.

Atletico suffered a scare as Oscar Plano put Real Valladolid in the lead early in the first half. Real Madrid also fell behind in the other match, giving Atletico some room to relax. However, both teams turned things around in the second half.

Atletico equalised shortly after the break via an Angel Correa goal. They then sealed the deal thanks to a composed effort by Suarez. The victory guaranteed the title, because Atletico was already leading by two points heading into Matchday 38. Real Madrid stood no chance even as they also manufactured a 2-1 victory courtesy of two late goals.

Suarez scored 21 league goals to lead Atletico to the title just a year after Ronald Koeman left him out of Barcelona's future plans. After his title-winning performance, Suarez said: "I am delighted the way Atletico have appreciated me and given me the chance to keep showing I can perform on this stage. I thank them for trusting in me. A lot of people have suffered with me, my wife, my children.

The Uruguay international helped Atletico win their 11th overall league title, and the first in seven years. It was a hard-fought victory, as Real Madrid took the battle all the way to the final match of the season.

Barcelona meanwhile, dropped out of the title race last week and will have to be satisfied with 3rd place after suffering a dip in form in the home stretch of the season.

Luis Suarez
Winning moment: Atletico Madrid's Luis Suarez scores the title-clinching goal AFP / CESAR MANSO