Atletico Madrid were held 0-0 by Real Valladolid and have drawn three of their last four LaLiga matches by the same scoreline.
Atletico Madrid’s stuttering season continued as they were held to a third goalless draw in four LaLiga matches by Real Valladolid, who remain unbeaten at home in LaLiga this season.
Diego Simeone’s men were let off the hook when Sandro Ramirez ballooned a penalty over the crossbar in the first half at Estadio Jose Zorrilla but failed to impose their authority in a game they were expected to win.
Atleti went into the match with a record of seven goals in seven LaLiga matches this season and their attack was turgid again here, with strike partners Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata receiving scant service.
Valladolid had lost all of their previous eight league matches against Atleti but held firm to claim a valuable point in their push for the top half of the table.
Sandro Ramirez fired a warning shot into Jan Oblak’s body as Valladolid tried to unsettle the visitors but Diego Simeone’s men dominated the ball early on and slowed the game down.
Chances were few and far between until Thomas Partey tripped Sandro in the box and, after a lengthy VAR review, the referee pointed to the penalty spot.
Sandro stepped up in the hope of scoring his first goal for the club but got his penalty all wrong, sending the ball curling high over the crossbar.
Saul Niguez fizzed a shot narrowly wide from 25 yards as Atletico adopted a more direct approach after half-time.
Morata got in behind the hosts’ defence and fired a shot that hit goalkeeper Jordi Masip in the face before Valladolid countered and Sandro went close with an effort on the turn.
Kieran Trippier’s cross created a chance for Angel Correa with 10 minutes left but the substitute’s powerful shot pinged back off the post to the relief of the home crowd, who will have been delighted with a point against one of the title favourites.
What does it mean? One win in five for Simeone’s men
While it is too early to start ruling Atletico out of the title race, Simeone will be concerned by a lack of cutting edge in attack that has contributed to a run of one win, three draws and one defeat in their last five league games.
They are second in the table but three points behind leaders Real Madrid.
Morata more lively
While Costa was largely a bystander, Morata provided Atleti with an outlet and battled through some heavy challenges to keep his side on the front foot.
Three seasons ago, Sandro scored 14 LaLiga goals in 30 appearances for Malaga and looked a star in the making. Now, at the age of just 24, he looks a spent force and the way he hung his head after blazing Valladolid’s penalty over the crossbar suggested he feels like one, too.
Valladolid travel to Athletic Bilbao after the international break, while Atletico Madrid will hope to pick up their first home win since September 1 when they entertain Valencia in 13 days’ time.