BARCELONA (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid’s poor domestic form continued as they could only draw 1-1 away to La Liga’s bottom side Espanyol on Sunday.
Diego Simeone’s side had been lifted by last week’s 3-1 win over Villarreal and their 1-0 Champions League success over Liverpool but struggled against a determined Espanyol and fell behind through an own goal from Stefan Savic in the 24th minute.
It took an impressive save from Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak to keep out a strike from Victor Sanchez later in the first half which would have doubled Espanyol’s lead but the visitors levelled in the 47th through a superb volley from Saul Niguez.
Atletico are fourth in the standings on 44 points after 26 matches, one ahead of Real Sociedad in fifth and two above sixth-placed Getafe although both sides have one game in hand. Espanyol stayed bottom on 20 points.
Simeone recognised that Espanyol had been the better team.
“It was a very hard fought game where neither side dominated. They were better than us, when you are in desperate need of points your concentration levels and intensity rise and they managed to score early,” he told reporters.
“In our last four games we have won twice and drawn twice. We are giving everything we have and we hope it’s enough to stay competing near the top of the table.”
The draw means Atletico have taken 12 points from 24 since the turn of the year. They have not managed an away victory since December and have only won three league matches away from home all season.
Goalscorer Saul said Atletico urgently needed to correct their sluggish away form.
“This year we are really struggling away from home and we rely on the support of our fans when we play at home,” he said.
“We need to learn how to cope without them away from home because we are missing the chance to pick up a lot of points.”
Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Pritha Sarkar