Atletico miss golden opportunity
Last Updated: 19/01/14 10:22pm
David Villa tries to keep the ball in play
Atletico Madrid passed up a glorious opportunity to go top of the Primera Division, conceding a second-half penalty to draw 1-1 at home with Sevilla.
On the whole it was a below-par performance from Diego Simeone's side, who may have been affected by the pressure arising from Barcelona drawing at Levante just before and although David Villa's goal after 18 minutes put them on their way to victory, they failed to build on their lead and were punished when Juanfran brought down Carlos Bacca in the area, allowing Ivan Rakitic to level on 73 minutes.
Even the sending off of Sevilla left-back Alberto Moreno with a minute to go of normal time did not end up aiding Atleti's cause, their best hope of a winner being a couple of half-hearted penalty appeals and a header from Diego Costa that went well over the bar.
Atleti remain second in the table, behind Barcelona on goal difference, both clubs seeing their lead over Real Madrid cut to a single point.
Although a loud cheer rang out at the Calderon when news filtered through of the result from the Ciutat de Valencia stadium which gave Atleti a chance to go top of the league for the first time this season, Los Rojiblancos did not begin the game with their usual intensity.
But they soon turned up the pressure. Filipe Luis and Diego Costa both hit the outside of the net on separate occasions, and then a last ditch tackle by Nicolas Pareja prevented Costa from shooting on goal after being put through by Villa. A couple of minutes later, the ball spilled out to Villa following a corner and Spain's all-time top scorer shot through a crowd of bodies to hit the back of the net, scoring for the first time in six league matches.
Sevilla remained cautious despite going behind but had two decent chances to level before the break, Coke shooting wide of Thibaut Courtois' near post, and then Fazio deflecting an attempted clearance by an Atleti defender back towards goal, just missing the target.
Atleti were more conservative in the second period, Villa's long-range effort which was tipped wide by Beto being one of few attempts from the hosts after the break. Sevilla enjoyed significantly more possession but only made brief advances towards Courtois' area, struggling to create a clear chance, until they won a penalty with 19 minutes remaining, Juanfran caught tangling with Bacca in the area as Atleti defended a cross.
It was the first spot-kick awarded against Atleti all season in the league and Rakitic did not pass up the opportunity to draw level, striking the ball right into the corner and just past the outstretched hand of Courtois.
But Atleti were unable to find the right response in the remaining minutes, and even though Sevilla saw Moreno sent off for a rash challenge on Raul Garcia, Unai Emery's men maintained their rigged defensive lines and held on to claim a point.
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