After a great run in January, it seems Atlético can no longer win. At Sporting we were held to a third consecutive draw in the league.
An own goal gave us the lead, but the first goal conceded under Diego Simeone meant that we had to settle for one point on our travel to El Molinón that ended in a 1-1 tie.
Simeone picked the same eleven players that started in Rome, with Mario again taking the place of the injured Tiago.
Arda Turan picked up a knock in training and missed out as well. He was initially included in our match selection, but decided to stay behind in Madrid where the Turk was sighted in the city’s nightlife until the early hours.
It only took Atleti five minutes to create two big opportunities to score. After a great pass by Koke, Falcao found himself eye to eye with Juan Pablo but the striker shot straight at the ‘keeper.
From the ensuing corner Diego Godín could have scored, but he headed wide from close range.
In the 20th minute Adrián ran into space and found himself with a lot of time and options. The forward’s cross-cum-shot was tapped into the empty net by the unfortunate Roberto Canella, who gave Atlético the lead with an own goal.
Shortly after the goal Diego whipped in a fantastic cross for Falcao, but the striker couldn’t get enough power and direction behind his header. At the other end Gregory headed just inches wide off the post and nearly tied the game for Sporting.
Shorty before the break Sporting equalized after Atleti were pinned down in their box when a free kick wasn’t cleared. The ball was crossed in again and Eguren made the most of a momentary lapse in defence.
It was only the first goal Atlético conceded in La Liga since the 18th of December, and so our clean sheet streak of 577 minutes under Simeone has come to an end.
In the final minute of the first half Juanfran provided Diego with an excellent opportunity to retake the lead, but Juan Pablo made a good save to keep the score at 1-1.
After the break it took a little while for Atleti to get back into the game, but then strikes by Gabi and Falcao threatened the opposing goal.
There was bad news for Atleti when Diego Ribas went down. The Brazilian playmaker seemed to have pulled a muscle in his thigh and had to be replaced. It’s unclear how long it will take for him to recover.
With Salvio and Pizzi on, Atleti opted for a more direct approach. The Argentine saw his shot stopped by Juan Pablo, when maybe he should have tried to reach Falcao.
Without Diego and Koke the team lacked creativity in the final third and the two forwards weren’t as involved. When we did get the ball inside the box, Falcao was missing the power to beat Sporting’s goalkeeper.
The Colombian didn’t seem to have his scoring boots on tonight. After excellent work by Salvio he again found himself in a perfect position to score, but Juan Pablo once again was able to get himself behind the ball.
At the other end Sporting almost nicked the game when Colunga broke through, but Courtois pulled off a strong save to keep the sides level.
And so Courtois did well to save a point for Atleti, but the big man tonight was without a doubt Sporting’s shot stopper. Like last week we played a good game but were lacking in our finishing. Against Racing we were frustrated by Toño, this week it was Juan Pablo who made sure Atleti had to settle for a point.
Line-up: Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godín, Filipe; Diego (“61 Pizzi), Gabi, Mario, Koke (“55 Salvio); Adrián (“81 Perea) and Falcao.
Goals: 0-1 Canella o.g. (“20); 1-1 Eguren (“37)