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Primera División

  • March 14, 2015
  • • 11:00 AM
  • • RCDE Stadium, Cornella de Llobregat
  • Referee: Iñaki Bikandi Garrido
  • • Attendance: 22538

Espanyol 0-0 Atletico Madrid: Miranda sees red as champion falters again

Atletico's title defense received another dent on Saturday, as Miranda was sent off in a goalless draw.

Miranda's first-half red card proved costly as Atletico Madrid's faltering title defense suffered yet another blow with a 0-0 draw at Espanyol.

The champion, looking to bounce back from consecutive league draws with Sevilla and Valencia, produced a toothless performance at Cornella-El Prat as the side slipped to fourth in La Liga.

Although Diego Simeone's men created the better chances before the break, their struggles were evident throughout.

The physical Felipe Caicedo proved a nuisance and the home side's resolute back line kept Fernando Torres quiet until his withdrawal following Miranda's sending off.

Torres and Antoine Griezmann did both spurn good chances, while Raul Garcia saw a couple of late efforts denied.

Sergio's side was more prominent after the break and only a fine defensive performance kept it at bay.

Despite Tuesday's crucial UEFA Champions League last-16 second leg against Bayer Leverkusen on the horizon, Simeone refused to rest key men for Saturday's trip.

The home side looked capable of causing problems for Atletico during the early exchanges, with Caicedo and Sergio Garcia particularly lively.

Atletico's set piece prowess soon caused panic in the Espanyol defense, as Torres headed on Koke’s 11th-minute free kick delivery to force Kiko Casilla into an acrobatic save.

Koke then went close himself from the resulting corner, lashing a half volley agonizingly wide of the bottom-left corner.

Espanyol's willingness to throw men forward left the club exposed in the 22nd minute, though it escaped unpunished when Griezmann dragged an effort off target at the end of a swift Atletico breakaway.

That scare saw the home side begin to take fewer risks, but it received a significant boost to it chances just before the interval, as Miranda was shown a straight red card for clattering into Abraham with a raised elbow.

Torres was replaced by center back Jose Maria Gimenez as a result of Miranda's indiscretion and with that change, Atletico's attacking threat effectively vanished.

The numerical advantage allowed Espanyol to exert more control, though Diego Godin and Gimenez proved an able shield to keep the side at arm's length.

Atletico sat back for a great deal of the second half, but finally crafted another chance with 13 minutes to go when Raul Garcia saw Casilla parry his effort away after he had latched on to Griezmann's clever flick.

The midfielder was denied by Casilla again a few moments later, the goalkeeper blocking a shot from point-blank range, as both sides failed to find a late breakthrough.