And Barcelona looked completely in charge as Alexis Sanchez scored a rocket in the 33rd minute after a fizzing near-post strike.
But Diego Godin equalised four minutes after half-time, giving Atletico hope of claiming the point they needed to break the Barcelona-Real Madrid stranglehold on the Spanish title.
And Diego Simeone's men clung on - despite a tireless second-half onslaught from Barca - to give Atletico their first title since 1996.
It marks the end of a nine-year strangehold that Spain's big two have held on the title, and is almost certain to spell the end of Tata Martino's spell as Barca manager as the side finished trophyless for the first time since 2008.
As for Atletico, they will turn their attention to the Champions League final against Real Madrid next week, which will give them a chance to prove themselves not just the best team in Spain, but the best in Europe.
Tata Martino left Jordi Alba, Xavi and Neymar out of his starting lineup, favouring a front three of Pedro, Alexis and Lionel Messi. Simeone selected a full strength side, with Costa partnering David Villa up front.
The Catalans started the better of the two sides, dominating possession with their high-tempo style of play. But Atletico grew into the contest, despite an early injury blow to Costa. The Brazilian-born striker is now a doubt for the Champions League final having aggravated a hamstring injury.
Barca took the lead after 33 minutes in dramatic fashion. There appeared to be little on for Alexis when the ball dropped to him 10 yards out from goal, yet the Chilean lashed a shot into the net at the near post to make it 1-0.
But Simeone fired up his side for the start of the second half, and they found an equaliser barely three minutes after the break. Godin jumped highest to meet a corner kick, powering a header into the net.
Messi was enduring a quiet afternoon, but thought he had put his side back in front after smashing a shot high into the net from close range. But the flag was rightfully raised to indicate offside, and the goal was chalked off.
Barca piled forward in search of the goal that would have changed the picture at the top of La Liga but despite a couple of hopeful penalty claims and long range shots, they couldn’t find a breakthrough.
14’ COSTA BLOW – It looks like Costa is coming off here. Simeone is down on the touchline sorting out his substitution. That's a huge blow for Atletico, especially with the Champions League final also on the horizon!
21’ TURAN INJURY – Turan tries to carry on but he's broken down and he's going to come off. What a blow for Simeone and Atletico.
26’ CHANCE – Pedro should have done better! The cross comes into the box from a deep position, and the winger gets up early to make a connection. But he almost gets up too early, and heads the ball well over the bar.
33’ GOAL – What a goal! It was hardly a chance and Alexis smashed in a strike at the near post. Courtois didn't stand a chance! Unbelievable strike.
48’ EQUALISER – Atletico have their equaliser! Godin leaps above everyone in the penalty box to power home a header! It's a free header! Terrible defending.
64’ DISALLOWED – Messi has the ball in the back of the net but it's been disallowed! The cross from Alves caused mayhem in the box, with the ball eventually falling to the Barca number 10, who slammed i high into the net. But the flag was up!
80’ SAVE – Good save by Courtois! Alves pings a shot at goal from 25 yards but the Belgian keeper is behind it and tips it over the bar. You would expect him to make the save, but decent nonetheless.
84’ PENALTY? – Penalty claim! Pique goes down under the challenge of Godin, as the Barca defender looks to connect with a cross. There was certainly contact between the two players. Godin is lucky to get away with that.
Simeone has now won the Spanish league and Copa Del Rey as a player and a manager.
Atletico Madrid have won their first league title for 18 years, and their tenth in total.
Eight of Atletico Madrid’s last 11 league goals have been headers, with six coming from corners.
Diego Costa has played more La Liga games against Barcelona without scoring than any other team.
Is Simeone completed the coaching job of the decade? Nobody gave this Atletico Madrid side any hope of winning the league before the start of the season, especially having sold Radamel Falcao in the summer. But they’ve done the unthinkable, and ended the Barca-Real duopoly in La Liga. Does Simeone’s achievement rank above Jose Mourinho’s Champions League win with Porto, or Jurgen Klopps’s Bundesliga triumph with Borussia Dortmund?
MAN OF THE MATCH
Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid) The defender will go down in history as the player who clinched the league title for Atletico Madrid, but his performance should be remembered for more than that. He was solid and led his backline in the face of intense Barca pressure. Outstanding defender.
Barcelona – Pinto 5, Alves 7, Pique 5, Mascherano 5, Adriano 6, Busquets 5, Fabregas 6, Iniesta 6, Pedro 6, Messi 5, Alexis 7. Subs – Song 5, Xavi 5, Neymar 6.
Atletico Madrid – Courtois 6, Juanfran 6, Godin 8, Miranda 7, Luis 7, Koke 6, Tiago 6, Gabi 6, Turan 4, Costa 3, Villa 5. Subs – Adrian 6, Garcia 6, Sosa 5.
THE MATCH IN A TWEET
- Sports & Recreation
- Diego Simeone
- Atletico Madrid
- Real Madrid
- Diego Godin
- Diego Costa
- Alexis Sanchez
- Lionel Messi
- Arda Turan
- La Liga