Atletico Madrid's title defense was dealt another blow on Saturday, despite Antoine Griezmann rescuing a point in a 2-2 draw at Malaga.
An Antoine Griezmann brace spared Atletico Madrid's blushes on Saturday, but the 2-2 draw at Malaga dealt a further hefty blow to its faltering La Liga title defense.
Samu Garcia seemingly secured Malaga a vital win in its bid for a UEFA Europa League place and, although Griezmann netted his second 12 minutes from time to claim a point, a draw won't prove particularly helpful in Atleti's bid to keep pace with leaders Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Despite hosting Real in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, Diego Simeone could not afford to rest key players and, for the first half an hour, Malaga caused few problems.
Indeed, it was the away side which broke the deadlock in the 25th minute. Griezmann capitalized on a Carlos Kameni error to score his 17th league goal of the season – his best ever Liga campaign.
The champions failed to hold on until the break, though, as Fernando Torres directed a cross into his own goal. That spurred Malaga on in the second half, as Samu celebrated his new contract with a clever finish 19 minutes from the end.
Griezmann scored his second of the day seven minutes later to secure a point for Atletico, but the draw does little in its pursuit of Real and Barca.
With chances few and far between it came as little surprise to see the opener come as a result of an individual error and it was Griezmann who profited. Kameni failed to keep hold of Jesus Gamez's long throw in and the France striker pounced, stabbing home from close range.
Malaga restored parity eight minutes before the break, though, and it came via an unlikely source. Recio fired a powerful delivery in towards the near post from the left flank and Torres diverted it into his own goal, despite Jan Oblak's best efforts to keep it out.
Malaga came out full of purpose after the break, putting Atletico under intense pressure as it looked to take charge.
Despite finding itself under the cosh, Atletico remained a potent threat on the break and went close, as Koke headed off target under pressure from Kameni.
Samu made Atletico pay for that miss, racing on to Amrabat's through ball and clipping over the advancing Oblak to put Malaga ahead with 19 minutes left.
But there proved to be one final twist in the 78th minute, as Griezmann smashed home left-footed effort following a precise cutback by Raul Jimenez.