Football

Atletico Madrid draw a blank against Rayo Vallecano

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Atletico Madrid began their La Liga title defence with a goalless draw against Rayo Vallecano at Campo de Futbol de Vallecas.

It was their first domestic match since they wrapped up the title at the Nou Camp in May, but they were frustrated by the hosts who surprised last season as they finished 12th.

Simeone in the stands

Diego Simeone was watching the defending champions from the stands following his dismissal in the Spanish Super Cup win over Real Madrid on Friday, and he handed domestic debuts to big summer signings Antoine Griezmann and Mario Mandzukic.

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Miguel Moya was also making his league bow between the sticks for the visitors, along with Raul Jiminez who partnered Mandzukic in a new-look attack, and loanee Cristian Ansaldi came in as a late replacement for injured acquisition Guilherme Siqueira.

Jiminez was one of two changes from Friday’s second-leg victory, along with Mario Suarez who came into the centre of midfield.

Limited chances

In a game of limited chances, the first one fell to Griezmann on 18 minutes. The Frenchman, who cost Atletico just under £24 million, got in behind the defence following some clever link-up play by the visitors, but a poor first touch let him down and goalkeeper Cristian Alvarez was able to clear.

Mandzukic had the next best opportunity seven minutes later. The £17.5 million man arrived at the far post after a strong run from Ansaldi down the left flank, but could only find the side-netting with his sliding finish.

Lackadaisical

The Croatian had a tame effort gobbled up by the keeper within a minute, before he was well denied what could have been a hat-trick. A very lackadaisical Abdoulaye Ba gave the ball away cheaply to Jiminez, who slid the ball in for an unmarked Mandzukic but Alvarez did well to hold the fiercely-drilled shot.

Rayo were very much on top in the second half though, and the introduction of new signing Manucho seemed to breathe life into them.

Javier Aquino’s drilled attempt from distance flew just wide of the target. He was then part of a move that had Moya at full stretch in the final 20 minutes. His cross from the right-hand side was met by a flying header from Manucho, but the former Manchester United striker was denied as Moya sprung down to his right and pushed the ball to safety.

The Verdict

It is only the first game of the season but Vallecano put up a very stubborn resistance against the defending champions, who will be slightly disappointed as it was these types of games that they would snatch by a single goal last year.

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Topics:
Football
La Liga

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