La Liga: Espanyol 0 – 0 Atlético
Atleti now winless in four as Miranda sent off for elbow
Atlético Madrid surrendered fourth place to Valencia on Saturday afternoon after a 0-0 draw with Espanyol meant they only took a single point back to the capital.
Despite only having ten men for for the second half following Miranda’s dismissal for elbowing an opponent, Atleti created the best of the chances. Failure to convert and a dubious refereeing decision means Atleti are even further away from retaining the Liga title.
With the Champions League return leg against Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday, Diego Simeone decided to rest Arda Turan for this afternoon’s match.
Cholo also decided to start Fernando Torres up-front for the second game in a row, although the coach had less options this weekend as Mandzukic was suspended following his fifth booking of the season against Valencia.
It was Torres who the first chance of the game fell to, and it took a good save from Kiko Casilla in the Espanyol goal to deny the Spaniard his first goal in the league since returning to the Calderón.
Koke was brought down midway through the Espanyol half, and it was maestro himself who put in the cross for Torres to get his head on. Casilla showed good reflexes to palm it over the crossbar and out for a corner.
It was Koke himself who had a chance to make it 1-0 soon after, and had two bites of the cherry after his first attempt was blocked. However a bouncing shot went just wide of the goal.
For the first half, Atleti were happy to let Espanyol shoot from distance, and they failed to register a shot on target in the first 45.
Atleti were intent on testing Kiko Casilla though, and a sweetly struck volley from Gabi after a Koke corner made sure the Espanyol goalkeeper was on his toes.
Espanyol’s biggest chance of the half came after Juanfran misplaced a back-pass to an Espanyol player – however Miranda and Tiago were on hand to clean up.
The biggest talking point of the first half came right at the end of it, as Miranda, in an attempt to win a ball in the air, led with his elbow into the side of Abraham’s head. It was a nasty challenge, and whether Miranda meant it or not, it caused enough damage for the Espanyol player to come off at half time.
Miranda got hurt in the collision too, but the only thing waiting for the Brazilian when he got to his feet was the referee waving the red card. It was a deserved red.
Fernando Torres had to be sacrificed, and it was Giménez who came on to fill the gap at the back, leaving Antoine Griezmann up top on his own.
However it was the Frenchman who had the ball in the back of the net just after the restart. After a great volleyed finish from Griezmann put the ball into the back of the net, the referee ruled that Godín had committed a foul after climbing on Álvaro. Replays showed that there wasn’t much in the tackle, and Atleti have a right to feel hard done by.
Espanyol came more into the game in the second half, and had their first shot on target when Caicedo curled a fierce strike into the arms of Moyá. Our goalkeeper didn’t have a lot to worry him throughout the 90 minutes.
Arda came on for the booked Gabi midway through the second half and this injected a little bit of life into Atleti’s attack. Some nice team play gave the ball to Griezmann, who under pressure threaded a dangerous through ball to Raúl García.
The Spaniard fired hard and low but Kiko Casilla pulled off the best save of the night to deny Atleti and put the ball out for a corner.
It was another opportunity for Atleti shortly after, and a goalmouth scramble was unfortunate to not end in a goal for the away side. Raúl García couldn’t get a clean shot away and despite chaos in the Espanyol box, the home side held on for a point.
It was an extremely busy game for the referee, who awarded 51 fouls throughout the 90 minutes. Some of them justified, but we still can’t see why he disallowed Griezmann’s goal.
Atleti now occupy fourth place outright, and sit a point behind Valencia now having played the same amount of matches.
Despite a disappointing result this afternoon, attention must turn to the Champions League on Tuesday night, as Atleti, winless in four, welcome Bayer Leverkusen to Madrid, a goal down from the first-leg.
What did you make of Miranda’s red card – was it deserved? Why have we been playing so bad recently?
|Espanyol||0 0||Atlético Madrid|
|Estadi Cornellà-El Prat|
|14 March 2015|
|F Torres (45')|
|Arda Turan (66')|
|Raul Jimenez (82')|