Liga - Atletico Madrid escape with point in difficult season opener

La Liga, Campo de Futbol de Vallecas - Rayo Vallecano 0 Atletico Madrid 0

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Liga - Atletico Madrid escape with point in difficult season opener
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Atletico Madrid midfielder Cristian Ansaldi (R) vies with Rayo Vallecano's Javier Ignacio Aquino Carmona (AFP)

Atletico Madrid escaped with a point as their La Liga defence started with a stuttering goalless draw against city-rivals Rayo Vallecano.

Diego Simeone had to watch the game from the stands as he served a touchline ban and saw his side hold on for a draw after a relatively rampant display by Rayo in the second half, who were unfortunate not to come away with all three points.

Summer signings Antoine Griezmann and Mario Mandzukic made scant impact on the contest, with Atleti desperately missing the energy and intensity of the unavailable Raul Garcia and Arda Turan in the final third.

Rayo grew in confidence as the game progressed, with the Madrid club hitting their stride following the introduction of Manucho as a second-half substitute, who gave the Atletico backline a torrid time.

All that was missing from Rayo’s impressive performance after half-time was a breakthrough. In the end Atletico will have been thankful to have held on for a point.

KEY MOMENTS

14’ ATLETICO CHANCE – Rayo get lucky! The ball is played over the top for Jimenez to chase, with Alvarez coming way off his line to make the challenge. However, halfway there he looks uncertain and makes a poor clearance, allowing Gabi to have a shot from deep. But Abdoulaye is on hand to sweep up.

25’ SIDE NETTING - Side netting! Ansaldi shows his marker a clean set of heels on the left wing, playing a teasing cross across the face of goal, but Mandzukic can't quite turn it in on the slide at the back post.

27’ MANDZUKIC OPPORTUNITY - What a chance for Mandzukic! A terrible pass from Abdoulaye gives Jimenez possession 25 yards out, who plays the ball to the Croatian inside the area, but the striker fires his shot straight at Alvarez!

69’ RAYO CHANCE - Chance for the home side! A corner kick makes its way out to Kakuta on the edge of the box, who strikes a shot towards goal with some ferocity. But Manucho gets in the way and is offside when it hits him.

71’ MANUCHO HEADER - Big chance for Rayo! Manucho forces a save on the stretch from Mayo! That came from a cross being played into the Atletico Madrid box, who are against the ropes. It was a great header.

72’ RAYO SCRAMBLE - Another big chance for Rayo! Bueno manages to play the ball to Aquino inside the box, who tries to shift the ball onto his left foot for the shot, but it's too much and Atletico make the challenge in time.

78’ MANUCHO STRETCH - Another good chance for Rayo! Aquino performs a terrific piece of skill to beat Ansaldi on the right wing, swinging a wicked cross into the six yard box. But Manucho can't quite make the connection. Had he done so it would have surely been a goal.

KEY STATS

Atletico Madrid have not lost any of their last seven league derbies, winning five and drawing 2-2 at home to Real Madrid last season.

Atletico Madrid have not won any of their last four league games, their worst run of form under Diego Simeone.

TALKING POINT

Is the Atletico that would have won this game 1-0 last season gone? This wasn’t an unusual performance from Atleti. In fact, this was a typical performance from Simeone’s side. They played this way countless times last season, but you always knew that they would find a breakthrough and invariably win 1-0. There was no such suggestion tonight. They looked tired and lethargic in their opening game of the season.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Manucho (Atletico Madrid): He was only on the pitch for 35 minutes, but the former Manchester United striker completely changed the flow of the game. Until his introduction Atletico had looked uncomfortable, but Manucho took on Godina and Miranda at their own game, causing havoc in the opposition box. He had a few efforts saved by Moya and was unfortunate not to prove the match-winner for Rayo.

PLAYER RATINGS

Rayo Vallecano: Alvarez 6, Quini, Ze Castro 6, Ba 7, Tito 6, Trashorras 5, Baena 6, Kakuta 6, Bueno 6, Aquino 7, Pereira 5. Subs: Manucho 7.

Atletico Madrid: Moya 5, Siqueira 5, Godin 7, Miranda 7, Juanfran 6, Koke 5, Suarez 5, Gabi 5, Griezmann 5, Jimenez 6, Mandzukic 4. Subs: Saul 5, Hector 4, Rodriguez 4.

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