Atletico Madrid’s frustrating La Liga run continued as Dani Parejo’s stunning late free kick earned Valencia a deserved 1-1 draw in the Metropolitano on Saturday.
Diego Simeone’s side had managed only one win in their previous five La Liga games, scoring two goals in that sequence, and their attack misfired again as more point were leaked.
Diego Costa’s 36th-minute penalty sent the hosts into the break ahead but they should have established a wider margin before Valencia came surging back in the second half.
Victory would have taken Atletico back into third spot, above Granada, but they lost ground on Barcelona who moved top earlier on Saturday with a 3-0 victory over Eibar.
Both sides ended the match with 10 men after Valencia’s substitute Lee Kang-in was red-carded in the 90th minute and Atletico had used all their substitutes before an ankle injury to Joao Felix in the 80th minute forced him off.
After a third successive draw Atletico have 16 points, three behind Barca and two shy of second-placed Real Madrid who play later away to Real Mallorca.
There were no shortage of chances for Los Rojiblancos in the first half but there was a lack of precision in their attack as Costa and strike partner Alvaro Morata wasted opportunities.
Morata toe-poked one shot straight at Valencia keeper Jasper Cillessen while the closest the hosts came was a skidding shot from Saul just wide of the post.
Costa eventually broke the deadlock when Denis Cheryshev was adjudged by the referee, via a VAR check, to have blocked a cross with his arm and the Costa sent Cillessen the wrong way with the resulting spot-kick for his second goal of the season.
Valencia were more threatening after the break and with Atletico losing intensity they began to threaten.
After 55 minutes Cheryshev spurned a great chance to equalise when he rattled the crossbar from close range after being set up by Maxi Gomez.
There was an edginess about Atletico and when Valencia were awarded a free kick in the 82nd minute, Parejo sent a powerful dipping strike past the helpless Jan Oblak.
It could have been worse for the hosts Parejo went close to a winner after a goalmouth scramble.
Valencia stayed in sixth spot having extended their run without a win over Atletico to 10 games. (Reuters/NAN)