MADRID (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid’s dire run of results continued with a dismal goalless draw at home against 19th-placed strugglers Leganes in La Liga which ended with farcical scenes after visiting goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar was sent off for time-wasting on Sunday.
Atletico are now seven points behind pacesetters Barcelona and Real Madrid. Leaders Barca were beaten 2-0 at Valencia on Saturday while second-placed Madrid play away to Real Valladolid later on Sunday.
Atleti went into the game on the back of a chastening league defeat to Eibar and a Copa del Rey loss to third division Cultural Leonesa, but the home crowd still showed loud support for coach Diego Simeone at the start.
They had little to cheer about as the match progressed, however, as their side struggled to create any real chances and had to rely on two impressive saves from goalkeeper Jan Oblak to prevent Leganes from taking the lead.
Leganes looked the more likely to break the deadlock in the second half too as a deflected shot from midfielder Recio narrowly fizzed over the bar while Atleti, who badly missed creative midfielder Koke, continued to lack inspiration.
“We are disappointed, we haven’t got the three points which we were looking for. Things didn’t come off for us and when that happens you have to be humble, work hard and give everything to get better results,” goalkeeper Oblak told reporters.
Leganes had to play the final minutes of the game with 10 men as Cuellar was sent off in added time for a second booking for time-wasting, which saw him also clash with a ballboy.
The keeper further riled the frustrated home fans by slowly trotting off the pitch and he was confronted by a number of Atletico players before his opposite number Oblak intervened as a peacemaker.
But Atletico never looked like taking advantage and this latest setback puts more pressure on Simeone, who is dealing with the biggest crisis of his eight-year spell with the club.
“It was a difficult moment for all the players. I don’t think we were more angry because we are under pressure but we all know we can do more to win matches like today’s,” Oblak added.
“What happened at the end was the result of that tension but we have to keep on fighting. People are talking a lot about Simeone but we are only talking about improving. Simeone wants to win as much as anyone but recently it hasn’t been happening.”
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Helen Popper and Clare Fallon