Atletico Madrid frustrated by struggling Espanyol

Atletico Madrid's poor domestic form continued as it could only draw 1-1 away to La Liga's bottom side Espanyol on Sunday.

Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid slipped up in the race for La Liga's top four on Sunday as it was held to a 1-1 draw by bottom club Espanyol.   -  AFP

Atletico Madrid slipped up in the race for La Liga's top four on Sunday as it was held to a 1-1 draw by bottom club Espanyol.

Saul Niguez volleyed in a stunning equaliser at the RCDE Stadium but Atletico was unable to find a winner as Stefan Savic's first-half own-goal earned Espanyol a valuable point in its struggle against relegation.

The result is less useful for Atletico, which sits fourth in the table but will be overtaken if Getafe wins away at Mallorca later on Sunday. Real Sociedad is only a point behind and also has a game in hand.

Espanyol stays 20th but is now only five points adrift of safety.

After its excellent victory at home to Liverpool in the Champions League, Atletico appeared to be building some momentum when it defeated Villarreal 3-1 five days later.

Read | Luka Jovic absent from Real Madrid's Clasico squad with future in doubt

But Diego Simeone's side has stumbled against the league's lower teams this season and so it proved again, as Espanyol dug deep for a deserved share of the spoils.

Atletico takes on fellow top-four hopefuls Sevilla next weekend and Simeone will have to decide to what extent he keeps one eye on the second leg at Anfield three days later.

His team can hardly afford a loss against Sevilla, which is now third after it beat Osasuna 3-2 earlier on Sunday, thanks to a 93rd-minute winner from January signing Youssef En-Nesyri.

Espanyol took the lead in the 24th minute when Savic turned in Wu Lei's cross at the near post and it might have doubled its advantage had Atletico's goalkeeper Jan Oblak not made a brilliant save by tipping Victor Sanchez's thundering effort onto the crossbar.

Also read | Simeone anticipated tough spell but happy Atletico stayed patient

Instead, Atletico equalised shortly after half-time when Saul took the ball out of the air on the edge of the box and banged a wonderful volley into the far corner.

Joao Felix almost grabbed a winner when his deflected cross came off Diego Lopez and hit the post while Alvaro Morata was unable to turn in the rebound from the angle.

Sevilla looked like it had thrown away victory when Osasuna came from two goals down to level after Aridane scored and Roberto Torres converted a penalty.

But En-Nesyri, who had also struck the opener before Lucas Ocampos made it two, scored his second of the game and Sevilla's third in injury time to snatch a dramatic winner.

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