Atletico Madrid 2-2 Sevilla
Atletico Madrid and Sevilla played out a thrilling 2-2 draw at the Wanda Metropolitano this afternoon to keep the race for the top four in La Liga wide open.
This game was the most anticipated clash in the Spanish league this weekend, with both teams chasing an invaluable Champions League place. And in a pulsating first half, they shared four goals, including a penalty each, before Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla withstood an onslaught in the second half.
Highlights of the game
Los Rojiblancos had a frustrating time of it after a 1-1 draw against bottom club Espanyol, and things started to look equally glum for the home fans when they went behind early in this game.
After Simeone’s side made a bright start with Felipe and Alvaro Morata both having efforts, Sevilla responded with a Lucas Ocampos warning shot. And when Luuk de Jong was given too much space in the middle of the penalty area, he calmly fired home.
But Atleti fought back and were level on the half-hour. After Diego Carlos blocked a header from Felipe, VAR took a long look and then awarded a penalty for handball.
Carlos received a yellow card and Atleti top scorer Alvaro Morata stepped up to stroke his spot-kick low into the left-hand corner to level the scores with his eighth goal of the season.
And five minutes later, Atleti were ahead when the recently returned Joao Felix took a pass from Koke and found the net from the left side of the box.
The Atleti fans were happy again, but there was still another twist before the break, with more input from VAR. The technology levelled things up by awarding Sevilla a penalty, and Lucas Ocampos shot low into the corner for his 10th of the season.
Felipe had a chance to restore the lead in first-half stoppage time, but his glancing header went inches wide.
Needing a win to move back into the top four, Atleti piled on the pressure in the second half. Morata headed down to Joao Felix on the edge of the penalty area and he shot just too high. Then, Saul Niguez, who scored the Champions League winner against Liverpool, had an effort charged down.
Felix had another pot shot, while Angel Correa’s left-footed effort from outside the box was blocked.
Morata came close when he met a cross on the edge of the six-yard box, but he shot wide. Diego Costa then fired a shot narrowly past the post.
Yannick Carrasco tried his luck but fired just over the bar. And finally, on 79 minutes, Sevilla had an effort as Ever Banega crossed, but Jules Kounde’s close-range header was blocked.
Niguez came close to snatching it on 87 minutes when he met Kieran Trippier’s cross, but his header drifted just wide. Trippier crossed again and this time Costa headed over and that was that.
While Sevilla had 55 per cent possession, Atleti’s second-half efforts won the shot count by 21 to 13. But their aim was off, as they registered just three on target to the visitors’ four.
Los Palanganas have still had the better of the La Liga 2020 results since 1993, winning 19 to Atleti’s 17, but both have stretched their recent unbeaten runs to six.
Both Atleti and Sevilla will hope to claim a top-four place by the end of the season. This was a decent point for both, though Diego Simeone’s side really needed a win to take control of their destiny.
Next up, Los Rojiblancos have that mouth-watering Champions League second leg away to Liverpool, where they will try to protect a one-goal advantage and see off the reigning European champions. Then it’s back to league matters away to Athletic Bilbao, who ended a run of four consecutive league defeats with a 1-0 win over Villarreal last week.
Sevilla face city rivals Real Betis at home next Sunday for the Seville derby. Their opponents are down in 14th, without a win in five, and that’s unlikely to change when they meet league leaders Real Madrid tomorrow. But before the visit of Betis, Lopetegui’s team have a Europa League tie at home to Roma.
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