La Liga: Atletico Madrid stays sixth after goalless draw at Villarreal

Villarreal held Atletico Madrid to a 0-0 draw in a contest that was entertaining, but not a great exhibition of clinical finishing.

Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix missed a number of chances against Villarreal on Friday.   -  Getty Images

Atletico Madrid did little to improve its underwhelming position in the league table as it was held to an entertaining 0-0 draw by Villarreal at Estadio de la Ceramica, making it three games without a win for Los Colchoneros.

Diego Simeone was looking for a response to the 1-0 defeat to Barcelona that left his side trailing La Liga's top three by five points, but a wasteful showing meant it was unsuccessful. A rip-roaring opening 45 minutes produced chances aplenty at either end, but the post and poor finishing stopped Atletico from taking advantage, while Jan Oblak was in inspired form in the visitor's net.

After the break there was initially a similar pattern to the contest, before Atletico upped the ante towards the end, but a woeful miss from Renan Lodi summed up its performance. A thrilling first half began with three opportunities inside the first 15 minutes.

 

Oblak acrobatically stopped Samuel Chukwueze's long-range effort and then parried away Gerard Moreno's header, before Joao Felix's 30-yard strike hit the right-hand post. Joao Felix wasted an even better opportunity 10 minutes later, firing over when played through on goal by Koke.

But Atletico again had to rely on Oblak when he tipped Manu Trigueros' brilliant dipping volley on to the roof of the net just after the half hour. Proceedings resumed at a similarly blistering pace and Villarreal should have taken the lead – Chukwueze inexplicably missing the target after being fed into the box by Trigueros.

Lodi somehow eclipsed Chukwueze's haplessness, however, shooting over from close range following Joao Felix's cross and that proved to be Atletico's final clear-cut chance.

What does it mean? Leading pack almost out of sight for Atletico

After Atletico's 1-0 defeat to Barcelona, Diego Simeone claimed he was not paying the Blaugrana nor Real Madrid any mind. Rather, he highlighted the increasing gap between itself and Sevilla.

Atleti could end the weekend eight points adrift of Julen Lopetegui's men, while Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao will fancy its chances of moving four points clear of the capital club.

 

Creative spark Trigueros carves Atleti open

Villarreal playmaker Trigueros enjoyed a wonderful display. Playing in a forward-thinking role, the midfielder was the host's creator-in-chief and was excellent, laying on a match-high five chances.

Morata fades into the background

Although Villarreal boasts one of La Liga's best attacks, it is by no means watertight at the back. Alvaro Morata would have fancied his chances of causing trouble, but he was largely ineffective and was fortunate to escape a second yellow card for a nasty foul on Raul Albiol.

What's next?

Atletico returns to Champions League action at home to Lokomotiv Moscow on Wednesday, before hosting Osasuna in La Liga. Villarreal faces another tricky test next weekend as it travels to Sevilla.

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