Atletico Madrid were held 1-1 by Villarreal at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday evening after a late Carlos Bacca equaliser.
Los Colchoneros were without stars Koke and Yannick Carrasco whilst Villarreal still missed Bruno, Sergio Asenjo and Ruben Semedo. However, Cedric Bakambu was able to start, despite being a doubt with a groin injury.
Atletico turned the screw in the 20th minute with two quick-fire chances – Angel Correa’s low drive easily gathered by Mariano Barbosa and then Kevin Gameiro slicing his volley wildly over the crossbar whilst through on goal.
Villarreal have been a somewhat bogey team for Atleti recently – and the Yellow Submarine almost proved why in the 38th minute as a ball into the box from Trigueros bounced off Bakambu’s thigh and into the grateful hands of Jan Oblak – a better chance than it initially appeared on second viewing.
Bakambu found himself one vs one with Oblak two minutes later but the ball was whipped away from him just as he was about to pull the trigger by a fantastic last-ditch Stefan Savic sliding tackle.
It was then Victor Ruiz’s turn to save his team as Antoine Griezmann’s effort at the back post took Barbosa out the game, leaving Saul with an open net but his shot was swept clear off the line by the Villarreal centre back.
Griezmann then came close again but his header dropped just too far past the crossbar as Atleti looked to pile on the pressure before the conclusion of the half.
Barbosa was finally properly tested as he dramatically leapt across his goal-line to palm Diego Godin’s looping header over the bar, but the teams went into half-time goalless with few clear cut chances for either side.
Villarreal appeared well drilled under new manager Javi Calleja and they had another great chance to take the lead in the 56th minute but Oblak was able to tip Rodrigo’s long range effort just round the post.
It was then Atleti’s chance to take the lead as a clever Gabi free-kick sent Correa through but his cross was intercepted by Ruiz who cleared the danger.
The two teams had exchanged blows evenly up until the hour mark when Correa slalomed through the Yellow’s penalty area and slotted past Barbosa’s near-post to make it 1-0.
The Yellow Submarine then appeared to be sinking as their defence split and Gameiro ran through but Barbosa made himself big to block the Frenchman’s shot.
Villareal began to search for an equaliser through some pressure of their own, but Mario Gaspar’s fierce long range shot was deflected and whistled just past the far post. However, that equaliser came with nine minutes to go, as Bacca – who had just received a yellow card – hung highest at a corner and powered his header through Oblak to make it 1-1.
The Yellow Submarine will definitely be pleased with sharing the points as they rise to fifth, whereas Atleti’s slip up could leave them three points off the top three depending on how Real Madrid get on at Girona tomorrow.