Liga - Atletico Madrid hold Valencia in stalemate

Sun, 05 Feb 21:23:00 2012

Valencia missed the chance to tighten their grip on third place in La Liga as they were held to a goalless draw by Atletico Madrid at the Estadio Vicente Calderon.

Atletico Madrid's goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois intercepts a shot from Valencia's Juan Francisco Torres (2nd L), near Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Dominguez (L), during their Spanish First Division soccer match at Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid February 5, - 0

After a cagey first-half, Radamel Falcao came closest to breaking the deadlock for Atletico - but his shot was cleared off the line by Adil Rami.

It was a scrappy affair for long periods, but Valencia could have sneaked a winning goal late on had Jordi Alba not dragged his shot just wide of the post.

But these were rare flashpoints in a game that, having been billed as a showdown between each side's star striker - Falcao and Roberto Soldado - was disappointingly low on goalmouth action.

But that will only be a minor concern to new Atletico coach Diego Simeone, who has now overseen five consecutive clean sheets since taking over from Gregorio Manzano in December.

Valencia shaded the first half, but had just one chance to show for their superiority. It fell to Pablo Piatti, who lashed a loose ball at goal, only for Thibaut Courtois to palm it away to his right.

The home fans got tetchy and so did the play on the field, with both sides guilty of cynical challenges that broke up the play.

Atletico came out strongly in the second half and Gabi could have given the home side the lead, blasting his shot just wide of the post from the edge of the box.

But the best chance of the game fell to Falcao, who burst into a great position down Valencia's weak left side, before seeing his cross cut out by Rami. The loose ball came back to Falcao just a few yards out, but Rami was in the way again - this time blocking on the line.

Valencia sensed they could steal a win that would have given them a seven-point cushion in third, but Alba put his shot wide of the far post after being released by substitute Jonas down the left wing.

The game failed to live up to expectation, but it gave Atletico a valuable point, with Los Rojiblancos just two points off a Champions League place in seventh.

Michael Da Silva - on Twitter @mjdasilva / Eurosport

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