MADRID (Reuters) – Atletico Madrid huffed and puffed against Lokomotiv Moscow but had to a settle for a disappointing 0-0 home draw 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 ruled out for a narrow offside following a VAR review.
Defender Jose Gimenez 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 qualified with 12 while RB Salzburg are last with one.
Atletico host Bayern next week before visiting Salzburg in their final game and may have to win both matches to guarantee their passage to the last 16.
“We are very angry, the Champions League waits for no-one,” said Koke.
“We have been playing well recently but we have to win our next games now. We started with a lot of intensity and had a lot of chances but sometimes the ball just doesn’t want to go in.”
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.
His side still made a flying start and should have taken the lead in the second minute when Marcos Llorente crossed to Joao Felix, but the 126 million-euro forward failed to properly make contact with the ball.
Llorente, Yannick Carrasco and Angel Correa all tested visiting keeper Guilherme later in the first half as Atletico ended the game with 20 shots on goal to Lokomotiv’s four, while the visitors only had one attempt on target.
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.
“We weren’t clinical, we lacked freshness but we played well, we were intense and wanted to win, and we could have scored a few times in the first 20 minutes,” added Simeone.
“The Champions League is getting a little difficult for us but we hope we can do better in our next game.”
(Reporting by Richard Martin; editing by Clare Fallon and Ed Osmond)