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The greatest comeback of the Simeone era

Never before had Atlético fought back from two goals down to win a match under El Cholo. That changed on Sunday.

Club Atletico de Madrid v SD Eibar SAD - La Liga Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

There’s a video going around on social media, which shows a presenter from “El Chiringuito” setting up outside Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday evening for his post-match broadcast. Then it happens. The “ooh,” the “eeh,” and the “yeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaarrrghhhh.” Thomas Partey’s goal could be heard all around the stadium, including by the few fans who were seen leaving early.

Oh, how they must have regretted that.

This wasn’t just the comeback of the weekend. This was the comeback of the decade for Atlético Madrid. They’d never overturned a two-goal lead to win under Diego Simeone’s stewardship. You have to go back to May 10, 2009, to the 35th round of the 2008/09 season, for the last time Los Rojiblancos came back from such a deficit.

That match was against Espanyol at the Vicente Calderón, and Atlético won 3-2 in similarly dramatic fashion to Sunday’s victory over Eibar. All five goals were scored in front of the Fondo Sur as Espanyol went into a 2-0 first half lead thanks to a Nenê penalty and a Dani Jarque goal moments later. In the second 45 minutes, though, Atlético — who were down to 10 men after a Luis Perea red card — regrouped. Diego Forlán started off the comeback with a long-range rocket, Sergio Agüero equalised as he turned in a low cross, and then came the last-gasp winner.

Simão threaded a perfect pass to Forlán, and the Uruguayan slotted away for another goal in a season that would see him win the Pichichi and the European Golden Shoe with 32 goals. As was often the case when the striker scored a momentous goal, the shirt came off and he raced toward the stands to celebrate with teammates and supporters alike. The scene involving Thomas at the Wanda Metropolitano was so similar.

That Espanyol comeback proved to be a hugely important victory for the club. That win was part of a run of six consecutive three-point hauls to round out the season, a run which secured Champions League football by two points ahead of Villarreal.

It remains to be seen what will come of Thomas’ last-minute winner over Eibar. Will it contribute to a league championship? Will it move Atleti ahead of another team in the table? Will it form part of a shock Partey Pichichi bid?! Possibly, possibly and probably not. But that doesn’t really matter. Sometimes football is about the moment during the journey, even if silverware isn’t waiting at the end of the tunnel. Cholo Simeone certainly enjoyed the first two-goal-deficit comeback of his coaching career — as he should.

And those fans who left early? They’ll never forget it, either. After all, they might have to wait 10 years for another one...