Atlético held again on re­turn to Span­ish league

The Star (Jamaica) - - Front Page -

Atlético Madrid’s strug­gles con­tin­ued as their sea­son re­sumed with a 1-1 draw at Ath­letic Bil­bao yes­ter­day for their third straight draw in the Span­ish league.

The setback kept Diego Sime­one’s team in sixth place, out­side the Cham­pi­ons League spots.

The goals at the empty San Mamés Sta­dium came a cou­ple of min­utes apart late in the first half, with Ath­letic’s Iker Mu­ni­ain scor­ing first and Atlético equal­iz­ing with a goal from Diego Costa.

It was the 13th league draw for Atlético, which has only two wins in its last nine league matches.

“We earned a draw at a tough place, but we need to start win­ning three points if we want to stay in con­tention to qual­ify for the Cham­pi­ons League,” Atlético mid­fielder Jorge ‘Koke’ Res­ur­rec­ción said. “It will be dif­fi­cult if we don’t start win­ning matches.”

The league re­sumed Thurs­day af­ter more than three months since be­ing in­ter­rupted by the coro­n­avirus pan­demic. Leader Barcelona opened with a 4-0 rout at Mal­lorca on Satur­day.

Atlético’s last match be­fore the break had been an away vic­tory against Liverpool that elim­i­nated the ti­tle­hold­ers in the Cham­pi­ons League round of 16. But Atlético had drawn its last two league matches — against Sevilla and Es­panyol — to drop in the stand­ings and re­main far from the lead­ers. It trails Barcelona by 15 points with 10 rounds left.

Atlético have the same 46 points as fifth­place Getafe and fourth-place Real So­ciedad. Getafe lost at Granada on Fri­day.

Ath­letic, which had won two in a row be­fore the break, stayed in 10th place.

Mu­ni­ain opened the scor­ing for the hosts from in­side the area in the 37th minute, but Costa equal­ized two min­utes later af­ter a well-placed through­ball by Koke.

It was the first goal for Costa since a league game last Oc­to­ber. Dur­ing the cel­e­bra­tion, he held the jersey of Atlético women’s team player Vir­ginia Tor­recilla, who is re­cov­er­ing from brain surgery to re­move a tu­mour.

Atlético de­fender San­ti­ago Arias had a chance for the win­ner in the 80th, but his close-range shot was saved by Ath­letic goal­keeper Unai Simón.

Sime­one made all five sub­sti­tu­tions that are now be­ing al­lowed for teams, while Ath­letic’s Gaizka Gar­i­tano made four.

It was Ath­letic’s first game since striker Aritz Aduriz an­nounced his re­tire­ment. The 39-year-old Aduriz de­cided not to come back once the sea­son re­sumed af­ter doc­tors said he would need a hip re­place­ment.


Two women wear­ing face masks pass by a gi­ant poster of Atlético Madrid play­ers at the Wanda Metropoli­tano sta­dium in Madrid, Spain.

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