Atletico Madrid huffed and puffed against Lokomotiv Moscow but had to a settle for a disappointing 0-0 draw at home in the Champions League on Wednesday, which left them with plenty to do if they are to reach the knockout stages.
Atletico thought they had found a breakthrough midway through the second half when Koke netted on the rebound after a shot from Yannick Carrasco, but the goal was eventually ruled out for a narrow offside following a VAR review.
Defender Jose Gimenez then missed a glorious chance to grab the winner in the closing stages, rising to meet a corner but narrowly heading wide of the near post.
The draw left Atletico second in Group A on five points after four games, with Lokomotiv third on three. Bayern Munich have already qualified with 12 while RB Salzburg are last with one.
Lokomotiv almost stole a winner deep in added time with a rare venture into Atletico’s area but Stefan Savic made a crucial challenge to prevent what would have been a disastrous goal for the Spaniards and a lifeline for the Russians.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone was denied the luxury of rotating his squad as numerous players were ruled out through injury or positive coronavirus tests and he started with 10 of the 11 players who beat Barcelona 1-0 in La Liga on Saturday.
Following the match, Simeone paid tribute to his former Argentina and Sevilla teammate Diego Maradona, who died on Wednesday.
“It’s hard, as it is for everyone who had the chance to spend time with Diego. A legend has left us,” Simeone said. “Our generation, at eight or nine years old, we watched Diego. He was our guide for what football was. This moment hurts all of us. Maradona is football. He had that rebellious character.
“I’ll remember the times I was able to be close to him, he always acted fantastically with me, he looked after me at Sevilla when I was really young. He showed me what the national team was and what it felt like to play for Argentina.
“He was and is the best in the world.”