Madrid: Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone lamented his side’s inability to turn possession into goals as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Malaga on Sunday.
Barcelona’s 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid on Saturday had meant Atletico could have cut the gap at the top to nine points with a win, but they failed to find a way through in a match that started brightly before fizzling out.
“The team dominated the game. We just lacked the final pass to convert that domination into a goal but overall we played well for the 90 minutes,” Simeone told reporters.
The Argentine also cited Atletico’s exertions against Sevilla as they progressed to the Spanish Cup final on Wednesday as an explanation for a performance lacking in cutting edge.
“I am happy because four days ago we played a very tiring game mentally and the team responded by playing the game we needed to play to remain amongst the best teams in the league.
“Malaga have great players and they are in the Champions League places with the hope of still being able to play in it next season. Atletico weren’t able to win but we played a good game and could easily have done so.”
Indeed after a bright opening by Atletico in which Diego Costa, Arda Turan and Cristian Rodriguez all fired shots just off target, it was Malaga who had the best of the chances.
Thibaut Courtois produced a wonderful save to turn Martin Demichelis’ header behind from Joaquin’s corner before the break and from another set-piece situation Wellington headed just wide with 13 minutes remaining.
Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini was also content with a point that keeps them just ahead of Valencia in the race for fourth place.
“We were facing a very intense team. In the first-half we weren’t sharp but we had one good chance,” he said.
“In the second we were better and I was quite comfortable because if you can’t win then it is obviously better to draw.”
Elsewhere Real Sociedad and Real Betis played out the game of the day as they drew 3-3 at Anoeta.
Goals from Jorge Molina and Dorlan Pabon had put the visitors 2-0 in front but three goals in little over 10 minutes from Carlos Vela, Inigo Martinez and Xabi Prieto turned the game around before Pabon turned in his second of the game to salvage a point for Betis.
Mallorca gave their chances of survival a huge boost as Tomer Hemed’s injury time header gave them a 2-1 win at Granada, whilst Valladolid halted Espanyol’s winning run at home as they played out a 0-0 draw.