Under par Atletico Madrid held at Villarreal

10 November 2013 09:32

Atletico Madrid missed the chance to move top of La Liga for a few hours at least as they were held to a 1-1 draw away to Villarreal on Sunday.

Mario's own goal less than two minutes in gave Atletico the perfect start, but Villarreal went on to dominate the game and were rewarded 12 minutes form time when Juanfran also turned into his own net under pressure from Ikechukwu Uche.

Atletico are now level on points with Barcelona having played a game more, but the Catalans can open up a three point gap at the top of the table with a win against Real Betis later on Sunday.

Atletico boss Diego Simeone was satisfied with a point given that his side were far from their best.

"We were facing very strong opponents that are playing very well and are in good form," he said.

"Defensively we did very well. We didn't have clear chances, but we did control the ball.

"In the second-half we improved a bit but it is an important point against a rival for the Champions League positions. I congratulate the players for the effort they are putting in."

Villarreal coach Marcelino also lauded his players' performance but was disappointed not to have taken all three points having controlled the game almost from start to finish.

"We played a great game against very good opponents that went ahead in the second minute.

"We are very proud of these players, their attitude and their play. We had absolute control and it was a shame we weren't more precise on some of our chances."

With left-back Filipe Luis suspended and Diego Godin away on international duty with Uruguay, Simeone was forced into two changes from the side that booked their place in the Champions League last-16 on Wednesday, with Emiliano Insua and Toby Alderweireld handed rare starts.

However, Atletico still made the best possible start as Juanfran picked out Koke at the back post and in his attempt to stop the Spanish international, Mario headed into his own net.

Villarreal should have been level instantly as Cani fired wastefully wide when completely unmarked inside the area.

Thibaut Courtois was then forced to parry Bruno Soriano's free-kick as the hosts continued to threaten.

However, as the half wore on, Atletico began to create chances on the counter-attack and from one such move Diego Costa picked out David Villa, but his effort was straight at Sergio Asenjo.

Villarreal continued to press after the break but struggled to break down the visitors' well-organised defence.

Jonathan Pereira pulled his shot just wide with a rare opening on 64 minutes before Courtois collected Manuel Trigueros's effort from the edge of the area at the second attempt.

But the hosts did finally get a deserved equaliser 12 minutes from time when substitute Jeremy Perbet got to the by-line and his low cross was turned into his own net by Juanfran.

Source: AFP