Creativity lacking again as Atletico held by Celta
Madrid (AFP) –
Atletico Madrid missed the chance to return to the top of La Liga on Saturday as they were held to a goalless draw at home to Celta Vigo.
After coming from two goals down to salvage a point against Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday, Atletico failed to sustain the momentum in a match of few chances at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Atletico had capitalised on the stumbling starts of both Barcelona and Real Madrid by winning their opening three league games this season but they are now two without a victory, following last weekend's shock defeat away at Real Sociedad.
They sit level on points with early frontrunners Sevilla, who will host Real Madrid on Sunday.
Celta, meanwhile, sit 14th in the table, having won only one of their five games so far, leaving Atletico's coach Diego Simeone with familiar questions to answer about his side's creativity and attacking threat.
Summer signing Joao Felix started before being replaced by Alvaro Morata in the second half, the Spanish striker available again after recovering from a knee injury.
But neither Felix nor Morata, or their partner Diego Costa, could conjur up the decisive opening, with full-backs Renan Lodi and Kieran Trippier by far the team's most effective outlets in the final third.
Atletico were the better side in the first half but only created a handful of chances, none of which could be classed as clear opportunities.
Trippier's early free-kick should have been headed in by Felipe Monteiro on his first start for the club but Ruben Blanco did well to react from five yards and push the ball over the crossbar.
Ruben made another smart save to deny Lodi's driven effort from 30 yards while Felix found space at the back post soon after but his prodded finish was also tipped away.
Celta held their own either side of half-time as the match became increasingly high on intensity but low on quality.
Costa wanted a penalty after the hour, claiming he was pushed after failing to make contact with Lodi's cross while Brais Mendez might have scored for Celta had Jan Oblak not been quick to shut down Santi Mina's superb ball through.
Lodi fizzed a late shot past the far post but desperation turned to frustration in the closing stages. Lucas Olaza and Costa each picked up a yellow card for a skirmish after the final whistle.
© 2019 AFP