Atlético Madrid have given up the fight for a Champions League spot after dropping two points against Real Sociedad at the Vicente Calderón.
After an uninspiring first half – the 45 minutes could be videotaped and used to cure severe cases of insomnia – Atleti managed to take the lead in the second half.
A goal by Gabi seemed enough to secure a narrow victory, but after the midfielder was sent off the team was unable to hang on as we conceded another late goal.
Headers by Mario Suárez and Arda Turan were all Atlético produced before the break, with the Real Betis rollercoaster seemingly still on the players’ minds and in their legs.
The only moment of excitement in the first period was actually created by the visitors. After good work by Xabi Prieto it was Asier Illarramendi who shot just wide of goal.
The Basques had another big opportunity to score at the start of the second half, but striker Imanol Agirretxe also aimed off target after another good move by Xabi Prieto.
Undeserved, and out of nowhere, it was the Rojiblancos who took the lead. Gabi picked up the ball a couple of yards outside the box, created space for himself to shoot and scored with an excellent low drive to the far corner to beat Claudio Bravo and give Atlético the advantage.
Atleti were somewhat fortunate not to concede from a series of free kicks around the box, although one foul proved to be fatal for Gabi. The midfielder turned from hero to villain in an instant by picking up his second booking of the game. He received his marching orders as he lifted his leg too high and almost hit an opponent in the face, but his earlier yellow for dissent was even more wasteful.
Atlético seemed to be able to hang on in the 20 minutes that remained, but in injury time another late goal was conceded. Unsurprisingly, we were again scored against from a corner kick. It was substitute Carlos Vela who poked the ball in to give the visitors a point they hadn’t expected, but which they did deserve.
Line-up: Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Domínguez, Filipe; Arda (“56 Salvio), Gabi, Mario, Koke; Adrián (“77 Diego) and Falcao (“87 Godín).
Goals: 1-0 Gabi (“54); 1-1 Vela (“91)