The atmosphere at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium on Tuesday was that of a cup final. Ecstatic fans, arriving first in rivulets before turning into a sea of humans, knew they were going to watch history being made.
And history was indeed made with the inaugural edition of the GOtv MAX Cup, which saw LaLiga giants and Europa League winners, Atletico Madrid, play in Nigeria for the first time and their famous striker, Fernando Torres, play his last match for the club. Atletico visited Nigeria on the invitation of MultiChoice.
A cup final it sure was, and Atletico’s opponents for the occasion were the Super Eagles B team. Expectedly, much of the attention was on Atletico Madrid, Torres in particular, whom they watch weekly on SuperSport via DStv and GOtv platforms.
The entry of the striker into the pitch for pre-match warm up was cheered like a goal.Atletico came with other stars. They included Jan Oblak, currently one of the best keepers in the game; Argentine international, Angel Correa; Ghanaian international, Thomas Partey; and their star coach, Diego Simeone.
Torres, however, remained the object of attention and adulation, notably because he was playing his final game for the club, which he captained at the age of 17.He started the match on the bench from where he watched the young Super Eagles match his team. Playing with composure and skill that belie their ages, the Super Eagles drew applause from the capacity crowd. They took the lead in the 31st minute through the impressive Kelechi Nwakali, who embarrassed Oblak from 20 yards out. The LaLiga giants did not trail for long, equalizing through Correa to ensure the first half ended on an even note.
Torres was introduced at the start of the second half to loud applause and made his presence felt immediately by stinging the hands of the Super Eagles goalie with a shot from outside the box. On 64 minutes, he gave Atletico the lead when he headed in from a corner kick.
The ovation was deafening. The Super Eagles levelled when Usman Mohammed’s beat Oblak after mazy run. But five minutes to the end, the Super Eagles were undone when Borja Caceres scored the winner for Atletico to claim the GOtv MAX Cup, providing a glorious end to Torres’ Atletico Madrid career and ensuring a piece of history was made in Nigeria.
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