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Atlético Femenino update: European football snatched away after Barcelona defeat

Real Madrid pipped Atlético to third place on the final day of Liga Iberdrola action.

FC Barcelona v At. Madrid Femenino - Liga Iberdrola
Captain Amanda Sampedro’s exit this summer has already been confirmed.
Photo by Flor Tan Jun/NurPhoto via Getty Images

An 89th-minute foul by FC Barcelona’s Aitana Bonmati on Atlético Madrid’s Rasheedat Ajibade practically dashed any hope Atlético had to make it into next season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League.

On Sunday, the 22-year-old Nigerian forward was propelling herself towards goal after beating defender Mapi León to the ball. A goal would have been enough for Atlético to secure a point and lift themselves into third thanks to a superior goal difference over Real Madrid.

FC Barcelona v At. Madrid Femenino - Liga Iberdrola
Ajibade dribbling against Barcelona.
Photo by Joan Valls/Urbanandsport /NurPhoto via Getty Images

Yet Bonmati managed to catch Ajibade and was given her marching orders after denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity, to the delight of Real Madrid fans on social media.

With Madrid beating Villarreal 1-0 thanks to a highly-controversial penalty just before half-time, Atlético slipped into fourth with 59 points following the 2-1 defeat against Barcelona. They finished just one point behind the Madrid rivals and will miss the Women’s Champions League for a second consecutive season.

It was a tough task for Atleti to head on the road to Barcelona and try to produce something that had not been done to Barça in the previous 29 league games – win the match. Lola Romero, the director of women’s football at Atlético, heaped praise on the team after giving it all against arguably the best team on the scene right now.

But Romero was not pleased with the level of match officiating in recent matchdays and pointed out that if Atlético had been given the correct decisions, they would have already sealed European qualification.

“A penalty against in the 93rd minute in the first matchday tie against Real Sociedad, the two non-existent penalties in the last three days for Real Madrid, three very clear penalties not called against Real Madrid ... the complaint is general, it is not just a comment from me, match officials are not at the right level in Spanish women’s game,” Romero told Diario AS. “If the league is going to be professional next season, we believe that the officiating level should be improved.”

Atletico de Madrid v Sevilla CF - Femenina Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Meanwhile, three players bid farewell to Atlético on Sunday — Amanda Sampedro, Silvia Meseguer and Laia Aleixandri.

Sampedro, 28, played almost 450 games with the club where she established herself as a monumental figure since making her first team debut in 2007. At Atlético, she won the Copa de la Reina and three consecutive league titles between 2017 and 2019.

Meseguer announced that she will hang up her boots at the age of 33 after an illustrious career in Spanish football, and 21-year-old Laia Alexandri is set to join Manchester City in England.

In terms of arrivals, Atlético are being linked with moves for Madrid’s Marta Cardona as well as Belgian star Tessa Wullaert. AS spoke to the latter, currently at Anderlecht, with Wullaert admitting that she had contacts with both Atlético and Real Madrid.

In the 2021/2022 season, forward Wullaert scored 34 goals and produced 16 assists in the Belgian league, scoring a further 15 in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying.