Sunday, March 7, 2010

7 March 1965 - The Closing Bookend On A Very Long Shelf

On 7 March 1965, Atlético Madrid walked off the pitch with a rare 0-1 victory over Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Before that match, Atlético's Madrid rivals had rattled off a record-shattering string of 121 unbeaten league matches at home - a streak that stretched back over eight years to the 1956-57 season. Coincidentally, Real's run started after a 0-2 home loss to Atlético on 3 February 1957, making Atlético the bookend for both ends of the streak.

The first match of the 121 was a 1-0 victory over Deportivo on 17 February 1957, followed by wins over Barcelona (1-0), Valencia (2-0), and Celta (4-1) to close with season with Real at the top of the table for their fifth league title. They went unbeaten at home for the next seven full seasons, again winning the league in five of them, with their biggest margins of victory coming against Las Palmas (10-1 on 4 January 1959) and Elche (11-2 on 7 February 1960).

Real's dominance was so complete that, of the 121 unbeaten matches, all but nine were wins, with those nine draws coming against eight different teams. Sevilla was the only one to avoid defeat twice, with a 1-1 draws on 2 October 1960 and 12 April 1964.

Atlético's win was not enough to keep Real from winning the title for a fifth consecutive time - their 11th league title overall - but they did not finish the season empty-handed, either, beating Real Zaragoza 1-0 to claim the 1965 Copa del Rey.

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