Diego Simeone praised Joao Felix's fearlessness after the attacker converted a crucial penalty to help Atletico Madrid reach the Champions League knockout stage.

Atletico needed three points to put a last-16 place beyond doubt and did the business with a 2-0 win over Lokomotiv Moscow on Wednesday.

There was an early setback when Kieran Trippier failed to convert a spot-kick in the second minute, his saved attempt piling pressure on a team that had not scored in three games.

But after winning that penalty, Joao Felix took it upon himself to end Atletico's goal drought 15 minutes later.

The 20-year-old Portugal international made no mistake from 12 yards after Rifat Zhemaletdinov's handball gifted the hosts another opportunity to open the scoring.

"He has a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of optimism and he is young," Atletico head coach Simeone told Movistar when asked about Joao Felix after full-time.

"When you are young, you are not afraid of anything. Joao is going through that stage. He played an important game.

"Joao continues to grow, has a lot of things, [but] we need the strikers to combine better and find that last pass to finish games earlier."

Joao Felix's goal was his second in Europe for the Rojiblancos and first in any competition since their victory against Lokomotiv in October.

"My father has always told me not to be afraid of taking responsibility," he said. "I have always liked to convert and that is what I did."

Atletico were made to wait until the 54th minute before centre-back Felipe supplied the sealer.

Simeone's men finished Group D with a four-point buffer to Bayer Leverkusen, who lost 2-0 at home to table-toppers Juventus.

Speaking about his team's four-match winless run, Simon said: "It was a moment with pressure after the previous results, but with [Trippier's] failed penalty there was not a drop of negativity in the environment.

"The players noticed it. They attacked well on both sides, with Joao at an important level. I'm happy, because it isn't easy to reach the Champions League last 16."

The draw for the next round will be made on Monday.

Joao Felix and Felipe were on target as Atletico Madrid ended their four-match winless run and booked a place in the last 16 of the Champions League with a 2-0 victory over Lokomotiv Moscow.

Back-to-back Group D defeats left Atletico needing to beat already-eliminated Lokomotiv at Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday to make certain of progression alongside Juventus.

Kieran Trippier missed a penalty with 114 seconds on the clock but Joao Felix settled the home side's nerves and ended their recent goal drought by converting from the spot 15 minutes later.

Alvaro Morata had a goal ruled out for offside but Felipe added a second early in the second half for Atletico, who are in the hat for Monday's knockout-stage draw at the expense of Bayer Leverkusen as they were beaten by group winners Juve.

Anton Kochenkov brought down Joao Felix inside the opening minute of his first Champions League appearance, but the goalkeeper got a hand to Trippier's attempt to help it onto the post.

Atletico made amends when VAR adjudged Rifat Zhemaletdinov handled Vedran Corluka's clearance, with Joao Felix picking out the bottom-left corner from the spot.

Morata tucked Angel Correa's pass away from Kochenkov, only for the video technology to this time work against Atletico as the striker's heel was deemed to be offside.

Any hope Lokomotiv had of dodging a fifth successive Group D loss were ended by centre-back Felipe, who converted Koke's cross with a side-foot volley at the near post.

Morata headed over from a good position with 18 minutes to play, though it did not matter as Diego Simeone's side saw things through.

What does it mean?

Atletico were involved in a straight shootout with Leverkusen for second place behind Juve.

Leverkusen had to beat the Italian champions to have any hope of progressing but lost 2-0 at home, meaning Simeone's men finished four points better off.

Joao Felix shows Trippier how to do it

Atletico entered this match without a goal in three outings and their barren run was prolonged by Trippier's penalty as Kochenkov atoned for his foul. 

It was hit at a good height for Kochenkov, whereas Joao Felix – who also won the first penalty – picked out the bottom corner with his attempt and left his opponent rooted to the spot.

Lokomotiv lack impetus

Three-time Russian Premier League champions Lokomotiv showed a serious lack of attacking threat, managing just two three across the 90 minutes, one of those on target.

They end 2019 with one win in their last 11 matches, losing four in a row. 

What's next?

Atletico have a home league meeting with Osasuna on Saturday. Lokomotiv do not have a competitive game until late February when Russian Premier League action resumes.

Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann has been voted 18th in the final list for the 2019 Ballon d'Or, a fall of 15 places from last year.

Griezmann finished behind only Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo 12 months ago after winning the World Cup with France and impressing for Atletico Madrid at club level.

However, an underwhelming end to his Atletico career and a tough start to life at Barcelona - who he joined in a €120million deal in July - has seen him drop down the list.

It marks the second time the 28-year-old has slipped from third to 18th, having done likewise in 2017.

Griezmann's Barcelona team-mate Marc-Andre ter Stegen finished 24th and Frenkie de Jong, who spent the first half of the year with Champions League semi-finalists Ajax, was voted 11th in the standings.

Three Liverpool players missed out on the top 10, with Georginio Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino in 26th, 19th and 17th, respectively.

Fellow Premier League side Manchester City were also heavily represented in the 30-11 rankings, as were Dutch champions Ajax following their run to the final four of last season's Champions League.

Lionel Messi and Virgil van Dijk are the frontrunners to win the most prestigious individual accolade in world football during Monday's ceremony.

Ballon d'Or 30-11 list in full:

=28. Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain)

=28. Donny van de Beek (Ajax)

=28. Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)

=26. Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool)

=26. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

=24. Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)

=24. Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)

23. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)

22. Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

=20. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)

=20. Dusan Tadic (Ajax)

19. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

18. Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona)

17. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)

16. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

15. Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax)

14. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

13. Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)

12. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

11. Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona)

Atletico Madrid star Joao Felix has been voted the world's best under-21 player after winning the 2019 Golden Boy award, beating Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho.

Portugal international Joao Felix broke into the Benfica first-team last season and swiftly became a fixture in the side, impressing with his athleticism, ability on the ball and strong finishing skills, earning comparisons with Brazil and Milan great Kaka.

He finished the 2018-19 season with 15 Primeira Liga goals from just 21 starts and featured for Portugal in their Nations League triumph.

Joao Felix's form understandably led to transfer speculation and, although several of Europe's biggest clubs were said to be interested, Atletico got a €126million deal over the line in July as they identified him as their ideal replacement for Antoine Griezmann.

Although the attacker is yet to light up LaLiga having scored two goals and set up one more in 10 appearances, a panel of 40 journalists voted Joao Felix as the winner of the Tuttosport award, making him the first Atletico player since Sergio Aguero in 2007 to take the gong home.

Joao Felix highlighted the impact of Benfica coach Bruno Lage in his acceptance speech.

He told the Italian publication: "Thanks to Tuttosport for the Golden Boy Award 2019, I am very proud.

"It is the second time that a player from Atletico Madrid has won this award and I am happy.

"Thanks also to Benfica, in particular to coach Bruno Lage, for all he has done for me and my family."

Joao Felix received 332 voting points to take the crown, with England talent Sancho finishing runner-up with 175 marks despite arguably having a more consistent year. Kai Havertz was third with 75.

The 20-year-old award winner - who returned to action on Saturday after a month out injured - follows Matthijs de Ligt, Kylian Mbappe and compatriot Renato Sanches in being named the Golden Boy.

Diego Simeone labelled Cristiano Ronaldo the best player in the world but warned his Atletico Madrid squad that Juventus are far from a one-man team.

Former Real Madrid forward Ronaldo has scored 25 goals against Atletico in all competitions, including a hat-trick when the sides met at the last-16 stage in the 2018-19 season.

The Portugal international drew a blank in the reverse fixture two months ago, though, and has struggled for fitness in recent weeks, making him a doubt for the midweek clash.

"He always played really well against us. He is the number one, an amazing player," Simeone said at Monday's pre-match news conference.

"He always know how to create problems to his opponents. But I don't think it will be just Ronaldo against Atletico Madrid.

"We are here looking forward to play in this amazing stadium. And we want to play a great game"

Juventus are already assured of a place in the knockout stages, while Atletico can join them in the last 16 should they pick up all three points in Turin.

However, Atleti have won just one of their last five matches in all competitions and Simeone is expecting another tough match against the Serie A leaders.

"It will be a great game against a very strong and demanding team," he said.

"We have a way of working, which is thinking about tomorrow's game. There are a lot of results that can generate satisfaction or not. Then we will look at the match that remains."

Joao Felix is part of Atletico's squad after returning from a month-long absence with a 15-minute appearance from the bench in Saturday's 1-1 LaLiga draw with Granada.

The Spanish club's record signing has scored three goals in 12 competitive appearances since joining, but Simeone talked up forward's importance to the side.

"He has been with us for a little while, he was injured a month ago and we couldn't count on him," Simeone told the media.

"We need him because he is different, with characteristics that we don't have on the field. With his humility, work and desire to improve from the first day, he will continue growing because he has talent and a lot it."

Atletico trail Juventus by three points but midfielder Koke, who played in the 2-2 draw between the teams in Madrid, has challenged his side to finish top of Group D.

"We want to play well at this stadium," he said. "We want to qualify and finish top of the group, if possible. 

"It's up to us. We’ll be up against one of the competition's best teams, so we'll need to be calm and play well to earn the three points."

Diego Simeone felt Atletico Madrid played perhaps their best game of the season in Saturday's 1-1 LaLiga draw with Granada.

Renan Lodi opened the scoring at Nuevo Estadio de Los Carmenes after an hour only for German Sanchez to equalise seven minutes later.

The draw was Atleti's seventh in their past 10 LaLiga matches and leaves them three points behind Barcelona and Real Madrid at the top of the table, having played a game more.

Simeone was happy with the performance, though, blaming Atletico's failure to hold on for a win on a "careless moment" that allowed Sanchez to head in from a corner.

"This was our best performance of those away from home and also possibly of those at home too," the coach told reporters.

"We were very consistent, especially in the first 30 minutes. Granada didn't get close to our penalty area.

"We played a quite complete match, but we had a careless moment in the goal we conceded. But the team didn't give up."

Joao Felix was fit enough only to appear as a second-half substitute, having been struggling with an ankle injury since last month.

Simeone insists the 20-year-old must be given time to regain full fitness before he can be expected to make a significant impact.

"I act as a result of what I see in training," he said. "He has to keep picking up the pace.

"He has great quality and talent and when he is fully fit he will contribute."

Joao Felix has been passed fit for Atletico Madrid's LaLiga trip to Granada on Saturday.

The 20-year-old Portugal forward missed six matches after suffering right ankle ligament damage during last month's 1-1 draw against Valencia.

Club-record signing Joao Felix's return comes as a boost to head coach Diego Simeone, who learned this week he will be without Diego Costa until the new year.

The former Chelsea striker underwent neck surgery on a herniated disk and, although Joao Felix adds welcome creativity to the Atleti attack, Simeone pointed out he cannot directly solve his Costa problem.

"No, he is not a forward in that sector," Simeone told a news conference, before informing reporters youngsters Ivan Saponjic and Dario Poveda would be providing cover for first-choice striker Alvaro Morata.

"With Saponjic, we have been telling him what he needs to get close to being able to compete with us."

Atleti president Enrique Cerezo said before Costa's operation there were no plans to bring in another striker in January and Simeone is seemingly content to work with what he has, while acknowledging Atleti might look to capitalise upon any opportunities thrown up when the market opens.

"I think about reality and that is that we have Alvaro, Dario and that we have to improve Ivan," he said.

"We trust Dario who can use that space to grow, he is only 20 years old [22], good height, good in the air.

"Both in the winter and summer markets you always have to be open to everything because everything can happen. The representatives do their job well and maybe there can always be some player who wants to go, another one who wants to come.

"In the middle of the season, the loss of Costa is important for his personality and what he conveyed in the locker room.

"He was not at his best, but he was there. His place will be covered by Dario, [Rodrigo] Riquelme and Saponjic if he manages to approach what we need."

Third-placed Atletico are a point behind Barcelona and Real Madrid in LaLiga, having played a game more than the leaders, and Simeone also has selection concerns in midfield.

Saul Niguez and Thomas Partey will both sit out the trip to Los Carmenes due to already amassing five LaLiga yellow cards this season.

"Both Thomas and Saul are out and give way to Marcos Llorente and Hector Herrera, to follow the line that the team has been taking," Simeone added, before noting the match as a particular opportunity for Llorente, a close-season acquisition from Real Madrid.

"For Marcos it is an important game. He is not having the chance to play because the Thomas, Saul and Koke are doing very well.

"He has worked very well and for sure he will play a game as a result of how he has worked."

Juventus are set to have money to splash at the end of the season.

Eight-time reigning Serie A champions Juve are repeating the rewards of their domestic dominance.

And it could see some of Europe's elite join Cristiano Ronaldo in Turin.

 

TOP STORY - JUVENTUS REACH FOR THE STARS

Juventus are eyeing a blockbuster signing, with Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Paul Pogba the targets, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

Italian champions Juve are reportedly set to announce an increase of capital by €300million as they establish their position among Europe's elite clubs.

PSG's superstar pair Mbappe and Neymar fit the profile of a future eye-catching signing, as well as Manchester United's former Juve midfielder Pogba, Gazzetta says.

The report also mentions Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho, Atletico Madrid's Joao Felix and Tottenham forward Son Heung-min.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester Evening News reports Manchester United are confident about signing James Maddison from Leicester City. After splashing out a world-record fee for a defender to lure Harry Maguire from Leicester, United are said to have their eyes on another Foxes star as they look to add quality in the attacking third.

Real Madrid are considering a move for AC Milan full-back David Calabria, according to Fichajes.net. The alternatives would be RB Leipzig's Lukas Klostermann and Youcef Atal from Nice as Madrid reportedly look to replace Alvaro Odriozola.

West Ham and Wolves are eyeing January moves for Milan star Suso, says The Sun. The former Liverpool attacker was wanted by Roma during the previous window.

- Soccer Link says Paris Saint-Germain are monitoring Chelsea defender Tariq Lamptey and plan to sign him at the end of the season. The 19-year-old's contract expires at the end of the campaign.

Arsenal will have to spend £30.1million (€35m) if they want to make Dani Ceballos' loan deal from Real Madrid permanent, according to El Desmarque.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich rejected an offer from a Middle East-based consortium to buy the Premier League club, The Daily Telegraph reports.

- The Guardian says Manchester City are stepping up their pursuit to sign in-demand Napoli star Fabian Ruiz. Fabian is also being targeted by Barcelona and Madrid.

Joao Felix is set for a spell on the sidelines after Atletico Madrid confirmed he suffered a grade two sprain to a right ankle ligament against Valencia.

Portugal international Joao Felix, who joined Atletico in a €126million transfer from Benfica in the close season, limped out of Saturday's 1-1 LaLiga draw at the Wanda Metropolitano with 10 minutes remaining.

The 19-year-old appeared to twist his ankle in a challenge with Dani Parejo and left Diego Simeone's side down to 10 men, having used all three of their substitutions.

Atleti boss Simeone acknowledged in his post-match news conference that Joao Felix's injury "could be serious" and scans have confirmed a grade two sprain of the external lateral ligament.

"Joao Felix underwent an X-ray and MRI scan at the Clinica Universidad de Navarra on Saturday and the report indicates he suffered a grade two sprain of the external lateral ligament of the right ankle," Atleti stated on their website.

It remains to be seen how long the teenager will be out for, though reports suggest he will miss a minimum of two weeks.

Joao Felix could consequently be forced to sit out matches against Bayer Leverkusen, Athletic Bilbao, Deportivo Alaves and Sevilla.

Since his club-record move to Atleti, the forward has scored two goals and providing one assist in LaLiga.

Diego Simeone indicated the injury Joao Felix suffered in Atletico Madrid's LaLiga draw with Valencia on Saturday "could be serious".

Joao Felix, who joined Atletico in a €126million transfer in the close season, hobbled off with 10 minutes left at the Wanda Metropolitano after twisting his ankle in a tussle for the ball with Dani Parejo.

The injury left the hosts, who had already used all three substitutions, with 10 men and Valencia quickly added insult to injury as Parejo bent home a stunning free-kick to equalise and claim a 1-1 draw.

Atletico confirmed Joao Felix will have tests to confirm the severity of the injury and speaking in his post-match media conference, Simeone said: "It did not seem much at first, but the doctors say it could be serious."

Diego Costa opened the scoring for Atletico with a 36th-minute penalty, but this was another game in which he and strike partner Alvaro Morata struggled to take their chances.

The stalemate left Atletico fourth in LaLiga having failed to win five of their past six matches. Simeone's men have scored just three goals in that run and have not been victorious at home in the top flight since a 3-2 defeat of Eibar on September 1, this latest setback giving leaders Real Madrid the chance to go five points ahead of them.

"Costa and Morata know that the only path is to keep working, to insist. Forwards know that when they score goals they are fantastic, and when they don't people point fingers," added Simeone.

"We are a new team, and we don't yet have balance to manage moments in games, above all when we need to suffer and position ourselves well and keep calm. But we are convinced we have players to do this, there is work to do, and I like that.

"Nobody thought this would be an easy season, I knew we would have a lot of work to do, to get the team balanced.

"In certain moments some people look to point fingers, others to work hard. Those who want to work hard will get on well with me. Those who point fingers won't.

"We are in a very good moment to work hard, and look to see who wants to work, and who does not like to work."

Valencia are unbeaten in five league games, with coach Albert Celades heaping praise on his players, particularly Parejo, for earning a share of the spoils from a game in which they were often on the back foot.

"To come here against this team, we knew it would be difficult. The team responded in a brilliant way in the second half, showed a lot of personality and ambition," Celades said.

"It is a luxury for us to have a player like Parejo, with his personality. When he has the ball, things happen. I love the way he wants to play, to make others play, to cause problems for the opposition."

Dani Parejo's wondrous late free-kick earned Valencia a 1-1 draw at Atletico Madrid, who were dealt a huge blow with an injury to Joao Felix.

Atletico appeared on course for a routine 1-0 win thanks to Diego Costa's 36th-minute penalty, the striker finding the net from the spot in a game that saw he and Alvaro Morata miss great chances.

However, the much-maligned forward pair's profligacy was eventually punished as Joao Felix, the €126million close-season signing from Benfica, had to be helped off with 10 minutes remaining, leaving an Atletico side that had already used all three substitutes with 10 men.

Parejo quickly took advantage in stunning fashion, bending a sublime strike beyond Jan Oblak and into the top-right corner to secure a share of the spoils despite Lee Kang-in's injury-time red card.

 

 

 

Matthijs de Ligt could become the first player to secure the Golden Boy award twice after he was included on a 20-man shortlist for this year's prize.

The honour, established by Italian newspaper Tuttosport and awarded to the best player under the age of 21 in a European top-tier league, lists Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe among its former winners.

De Ligt claimed it in 2018 when on the books of Ajax and is among the nominees for 2019 after continuing to impress with Juventus. He was the first defender to win it.

Manchester City star Phil Foden is also in contention, alongside emerging Barcelona talent Ansu Fati, despite both having been afforded minimal game time.

More established youngsters such as Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho, AC Milan's Gianluigi Donnarumma and Bayer Leverkusen's Kai Havertz are also on the list.

The winner is determined by an international online vote and will be announced in Turin on December 16. 

Full list of Golden Boy nominees: 

Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich), Ansu Fati (Barcelona), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Matteo Guendouzi (Arsenal), Erling Braut Haaland (Salzburg), Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen), Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid), Dejan Joveljic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Moise Kean (Everton), Lee Kang-in (Valencia), Donyell Malen (PSV), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Andriy Lunin  (Real Valladolid), Rodrygo (Real Madrid), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Ferran Torres (Valencia), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid), Nicolo Zaniolo (Roma)

Saul Niguez has praised Hector Herrera's attitude but acknowledged he has work to do to earn a starting place at Atletico Madrid.

Herrera has started just one LaLiga match since his arrival from Porto in July, featuring from the outset in the side's goalless draw with Celta Vigo in September.

That game came three days after Herrera scored his first goal for Atleti as a substitute with a timely equaliser in the last minute of 2-2 draw with Juventus in the Champions League.

Meanwhile, Saul has played every minute of the team's league campaign.

But the Spain international pointed to Herrera's appearance as a substitute for striker Alvaro Morata in Sunday's draw at Real Valladolid as evidence of the new man's positive approach.

"I think he's amazing," Saul told LaLiga's official website. "People are surprised that he hasn't been getting game time but, at the end of the day, you have to earn it.

"We saw the other day when he played in a different position. We have always set an example for him, because he keeps training very well and, as I said, he wants to listen and to learn.

"And despite the fact he's an experienced player, he's open-minded. In the dressing room, he's a very good guy."

Saul also gave a positive assessment of Atletico's other new arrivals for 2019-20, including forward Ivan Saponjic, who joined the club from Benfica in July but is yet to feature.

"Renan Lodi and Kieran Trippier, they're great at getting up and down the wing," Saul said. "They're top players and they pose a real threat because they're excellent at crossing.

"As for Felipe and Mario Hermoso, both of them are very experienced and top-class centre-backs, but their most salient and important feature – as with the rest of the signings – is that they have a willingness to learn and to listen, regardless of how experienced they may be.

"Joao Felix is getting more playing time than Saponjic but the same goes for him as the other lads. He's always working hard in training, he's a very strong guy when it comes to holding off defenders and creating space, and he has great movement in the box."

Diego Simeone backed his Atletico Madrid forwards to come good in LaLiga but said they need "more forcefulness and anger" to find the net.

Atletico were held to a second consecutive goalless LaLiga draw when they failed to break down a resolute Real Valladolid side at Estadio Jose Zorrilla on Sunday and Simeone admitted his side were slow to get going.

The Rojiblancos improved in the second half but the closest they went to scoring was an Angel Correa shot that hit the post, leaving them with just one win from their past five league games, with Atleti failing to score in four of those.

Simeone gave credit to Valladolid, who missed a first-half penalty, saying: "The opponent was better in the first half. We did very little.

"In the second we were much better, it was more intense, we were more keen to show danger and we created a situation to win. The second half was closer to how we wanted to play from the start."

Asked about his side's problems in front of goal, after a third 0-0- draw in four LaLiga matches, Simeone said: "We need more precision, more forcefulness and anger.

"I see [Alvaro] Morata and [Diego] Costa have the intent, enthusiasm and desire to do things well and they have all my support.

"We have to wait, because they will find the answer for sure."

Morata, who went close to scoring when his second-half shot hit the face of Valladolid goalkeeper Jordi Masip, said he felt his team-mates were affected by their midweek trip to Moscow in the Champions League.

Atletico beat Lokomotiv Moscow 2-0 five days before their trip to Valladolid, with Joao Felix and Thomas Partey on the score-sheet.

"It is not easy to play after having played a game so far [Moscow]," said Morata.

"We are tired but there is no excuse.

"We are fine, it is not easy, LaLiga is more difficult than a few years ago. If we continue along this line we will be up there."

Atletico Madrid's stuttering season continued as they were held to a third goalless draw in four LaLiga matches by Real Valladolid, who remain unbeaten at home in LaLiga this season.

Diego Simeone's men were let off the hook when Sandro Ramirez ballooned a penalty over the crossbar in the first half at Estadio Jose Zorrilla but failed to impose their authority in a game they were expected to win.

Atleti went into the match with a record of seven goals in seven LaLiga matches this season and their attack was turgid again here, with strike partners Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata receiving scant service.

Valladolid had lost all of their previous eight league matches against Atleti but held firm to claim a valuable point in their push for the top half of the table.

Sandro Ramirez fired a warning shot into Jan Oblak's body as Valladolid tried to unsettle the visitors but Diego Simeone's men dominated the ball early on and slowed the game down.

Chances were few and far between until Thomas Partey tripped Sandro in the box and, after a lengthy VAR review, the referee pointed to the penalty spot.

Sandro stepped up in the hope of scoring his first goal for the club but got his penalty all wrong, sending the ball curling high over the crossbar.

Saul Niguez fizzed a shot narrowly wide from 25 yards as Atletico adopted a more direct approach after half-time.

Morata got in behind the hosts' defence and fired a shot that hit goalkeeper Jordi Masip in the face before Valladolid countered and Sandro went close with an effort on the turn.

Kieran Trippier's cross created a chance for Angel Correa with 10 minutes left but the substitute's powerful shot pinged back off the post to the relief of the home crowd, who will have been delighted with a point against one of the title favourites.

 

What does it mean? One win in five for Simeone's men

While it is too early to start ruling Atletico out of the title race, Simeone will be concerned by a lack of cutting edge in attack that has contributed to a run of one win, three draws and one defeat in their last five league games.

They are second in the table but three points behind leaders Real Madrid.

Morata more lively

While Costa was largely a bystander, Morata provided Atleti with an outlet and battled through some heavy challenges to keep his side on the front foot.

Sandro's struggle

Three seasons ago, Sandro scored 14 LaLiga goals in 30 appearances for Malaga and looked a star in the making. Now, at the age of just 24, he looks a spent force and the way he hung his head after blazing Valladolid's penalty over the crossbar suggested he feels like one, too.

What's next?

Valladolid travel to Athletic Bilbao after the international break, while Atletico Madrid will hope to pick up their first home win since September 1 when they entertain Valencia in 13 days' time.

Page 1 of 2
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.