Atlético Madrid once again failed to protect a 1-0 lead at the Wanda Metropolitano in a 1-1 draw with Girona.
In a game played with one eye very clearly on Sevilla midweek, Atlético went ahead through Antoine Griezmann’s (offside) goal in the 34th minute. But poor substitutions from Diego Simeone contributed to Portu’s surprise equalizer against the run of play on 74 minutes.
It was a lively Atlético which dictated play in the early going, much unlike when these two first tangoed back in August. Griezmann saw Yassine Bounou stop a curling shot and then lifted an effort over the crossbar inside the first few minutes. Atlético took initiative and looked more assured on the ball than the visitors, in addition to handling comfortably a Cristhian Stuani-less attack.
The game’s first great chance came on 24 minutes, when Atleti broke quickly and Griezmann slipped Correa through. Unfortunately for the Argentine, his shot lacked precision and was turned away for a corner.
But Griezmann wouldn’t be denied — even if from an offside position. Thomas Partey delivered an excellent weighted pass to Diego Costa, who was able to nod over to Griezmann before he was clattered by Bono. However, an unmarked (and quite offside) Griezmann turned into an open net with his left foot to give Atlético a 1-0 lead on 34 minutes. That advantage would carry los colchoneros through to halftime.
Bono was taken off at halftime due to injury, and Gorka Iraizoz took his place for the second 45. Despite the change in net, Atlético continued to ping the ball about with confidence, although they weren’t creating that many chances. After Costa’s substitution on the hour (he played 90 minutes Wednesday), Yannick Carrasco had a golden opportunity to double the lead but saw a stinging shot parried away by Gorka.
Little did the Belgian realize how much he would come to regret that miss. After Simeone removed Griezmann on 70 minutes, Girona woke up and applied a touch of pressure for the first time all day by winning consecutive free kicks. A botched clearance by Koke on the latter kept play alive for Bernardo, who headed to an unmarked Portu.
Following the Spanish striker’s tap-in, Simeone threw on Vitolo and pushed everybody up the pitch. But Atlético would not create another good chance and even saw a Bernardo handball in the box ignored. The Catalans looked much closer to grabbing a winner, and after Jan Oblak was shown a yellow card for taking out Michael Olunga on the break, one wouldn’t have been faulted for thinking Girona would pull off a famous win.
In deciding to go for a famous comeback in Andalusia next week, Simeone lost the plot and Atlético lost any shot at challenging for LaLiga this season (not that it was really a race anyway). Girona, so limp for so long, turned the tables on Atleti in the same way Atleti turned the tables on them five months ago at Montilivi.
With this draw, los rojiblancos have now failed to protect a 1-0 lead at home on four separate occasions this season — three of those games ended 1-1, including this one.
Atlético: Oblak; Vrsaljko (Vitolo, 80’), Savić, Giménez, Lucas; Correa, Thomas, Saúl, Carrasco; Griezmann (Koke, 71’), Costa (Gameiro, 60’).
Girona: Bono (Iraizoz, 46’); Ramalho, Espinosa, Juanpe; Aday, Pons, Granell (Timor, 84’), Mojica; Portu, García, Olunga.