Atletico held to goalless draw by Valladolid
Real Valladolid's forward Enes Unal (left) vies with Atletico Madrid's midfielder Hector Herrera (second left) during their Spanish league match on Sunday. - AFP
Madrid - Atletico could have lost if Valladolid's Sandro Ramirez had not missed a first-half penalty while Alvaro Morata squandered two good chances for the visitors and Angel Correa hit the post late on.
Atletico Madrid lost ground on La Liga's early pace-setters Real Madrid after they were held to a 0-0 draw away at Real Valladolid on Sunday.
Atletico will head into the international break three points behind their city rivals and with work to do after the stalemate means Diego Simeone's side have managed only two wins from their last seven games in all competitions.
They could have lost if Valladolid's Sandro Ramirez had not missed a first-half penalty while Alvaro Morata squandered two good chances for the visitors and Angel Correa hit the post late on.
This is Atletico's third goalless draw this season and doubts remain as to whether they possess the creativity and attacking punch to win the title in May.
Morata, Diego Costa and Joao Felix all started at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla but one shot on target during the 90 minutes, none from Felix or Costa, told its own story.
Valladolid still have only one victory since the opening day and this hard-fought point will be welcome, even if they feel it could have been more. Sergio's side sit 12th, with two wins from eight games.
Valladolid's penalty needed VAR and even then referee Jose Sanchez took a handful of viewings on the sideline monitor to make his decision.
Sanchez ruled that Thomas Partey made contact with the back of Sandro's foot, the midfielder late and seemingly unaware having just emerged from a tangle with Toni Suarez.
But if there was contact, it was minimal and there seemed some justice in Sandro missing the penalty, with a dreadful effort that flew over the crossbar.
Atletico were the better team in the second half and Morata twice might have scored, put through by a Diego Costa flick and then slipped in by Correa. His first shot was saved and the second crashed into the side-netting.
They went closest, though, with eight minutes to go as Kieran Trippier's cross from the right was flicked to the feet of Correa on the far side. His curling finish beat Jordi Masip in goal but struck the post and came out.
Valladolid could have snatched victory late on but Sergi Guardiola mistimed his header after Renan Lodi had misjudged the cross. A draw was probably a fair result.