A dull match at the Vicente Calderon against Racing Santander ended in a goalless draw; one that could very well have cost Atlético two very important points in their fight for a Champions League spot.
Quique Sanchez Flores surprised us all by naming a new captain. With Lopez on the bench, Simao gone and Forlan injured, it was expected Perea would be given the captain’s armband, but instead Sergio Agüero was given the honour, for the first time in his Atlético career.
And the new skipper almost set the perfect example early on. Fran Mérida lobbed a ball into the box but Kun found Toño, the Racing goalkeeper, in his way.
With Reyes suspended and Forlan unavailable Quique was forced to make some changes to our line-up. After just twenty minutes he had to improvise some more.
Tiago pulled his hamstring while chasing the ball, and was substituted by Valera. We don’t expect the Portuguese to be available against Espanyol on Thursday.
The first half continued without much excitement, although that could have changed had Agüero not been stopped by the assistant referee. He seemed to be onside when Raul Garcia’s pass was played, but the Argentine was called back for offside when he would have been through on goal.
Not a minute later Diego Costa cut inside and shot with his right foot, but Toño pushed it wide.
Racing’s only serious shot on target came from Kennedy’s freekick just before the break. David de Gea had to stretch his entire body to reach to Bakircioglu’s low shot and did well to push it away from goal.
The second half was uneventful, although Racing got an early chance through Markus Rosenberg who shot wide of the target.
It wasn’t until the 76th minute that Atlético finally had a shot on target again. Koke, who had come on for Raul Garcia, smashed a volley from just outside the box but saw Toño stop it.
From the following corner Ujfalusi wasn’t able to get his shot on target, and two minutes later Fran Mérida shot just wide after his shot took a deflection.
But the best save of the night came at the other end. Markus Rosenberg seemed sure to score as he shot towards the far corner, but De Gea got his foot to it.
Agüero then tried his luck from distance but was again stopped by the excellent Toño.
In the remaining minutes Atleti continued to pressure Racing’s defence and in added time it almost led to a goal.
First Cisma intervened with a last ditch tackle and in the dying seconds of the match Toño pulled off one more amazing save to stop Diego Costa’s header.
Our Champions League rivals all got a win this weekend, while we got stuck with just a single point at home against Racing.
On Thursday we’ll get a chance to make up for the result when we play the return leg of our Copa del Rey clash against Espanyol.
Line-up: De Gea; Ujfalusi, Perea, Godin, Filipe; Raul Garcia (“69 Koke), Tiago (“20 Valera), Assunçao, Fran Mérida; Diego Costa and Agüero.