Atletico miss chance to close gap on Barca

03 March 2013 08:16

Atletico Madrid missed the chance to close the gap on Barcelona at the top of La Liga to nine points as they had to settle for a point from a disappointing 0-0 draw at Malaga.

The visitors started brightly with Diego Costa, Arda Turan and Cristiano Rodriguez all having efforts at goal, but it was Thibaut Courtois who was forced into the first serious save of the game as he diverted Martin Demichelis' header wide.

And despite Atleti's dominance in possession after the break it was again Malaga who came closest to scoring as Weligton headed inches past Courtois' far post from Vitorino Artunes' free-kick.

The point does help both sides European ambitions though as Atletico open up a two-point gap over Real Madrid in third and Malaga move a point ahead of Valencia in the fight for the final Champions League place in fourth.

This fixture also finished 0-0 in Diego Simeone's first game in charge of Atletico just over a year ago but there was no indication of another stalemate after an end-to-end opening 20 minutes.

Costa shanked horribly wide when he should have hit the target before Arda sent another effort fizzing just past Willy Caballero's right-hand post.

Courtois was forced into his first save of the game moments later, but Lucas Piazon's header lacked the necessary power to seriously trouble the Belgian.

Arda then tested Caballero with another drive from distance and Rodriguez also dragged a shot just off target as Atleti continued to press but they were grateful to Courtois just to keep the scores level on 18 minutes as he somehow turned Demichelis' downward header behind.

Thereafter though the game lacked rhythm and excitement as both sides cancelled each other out.

One of the few players who did look like creating something was Costa, but after he was rightly booked for diving to try and win a penalty on the hour mark he was replaced by Simeone for fear of picking up a second yellow card.

The best effort of the second period arrived 13 minutes from time as Weligton headed Antunes' free-kick just past under pressure from a posse of Atelti defenders before Caballero had one more routine save to make from Mario Suarez to ensure the spoils were shared.

Source: AFP