A feisty affair in Gijon ends in stalemate as Los Colchoneros fail to overcome the relegation strugglers
A real battle at El Molinon ended in stalemate as Atletico Madrid and Sporting Gijon drew 1-1.
An own goal by Roberto Canella put the away side ahead, but Sebastien Eguren levelled the game before half-time, and neither side was unable to find a winning goal.
The visitors started the stronger and had a chance after only five minutes. Koke sent a ball over the top for in-form Radamel Falcao, scorer of two goals in midweek, and his shot was saved comfortably by Sporting goalkeeper, Juan Pablo.
From the resulting corner, Adrian Lopez then headed over with the goal beckoning, after the keeper had mistimed his catch.
Atletico were looking comfortable and it seemed a matter of when rather than if they would score. The breakthrough duly arrived on 20 minutes when a fabulous burst of pace by Adrian led to his subsequent shot being turned into his own net by defender Canella.
Diego Simeone’s side were playing with a confidence that comes with being unbeaten in six games in the league; Falcao had a half-chance with a header that tamely fell into the hands of Juan Pablo.
Sporting looked most dangerous from set-pieces. Indeed, a Carmelo free-kick was whipped in from the right for Gregory Arnolin to put the ball just wide, with a header across the goal.
However, on 37 minutes, the equaliser in fact came from a cross. The ball was bent in from the left, and a goalmouth scramble led to Sebastien Eguren poking into the back of the net.
Javier Clemente’s side had the momentum and the majority of the play early in the second half. Ten minutes in, a skilful volley into the box by Carmelo, after his free-kick was blocked, was headed over by Gregory.
Approaching the hour, though, and it was Atletico's turn to enjoy a period of pressure. Gabi had a snapshot which flew wide of the post, and an Atleti break led to substitute Toto Salvio’s shot being well saved by the Sporting keeper.
It certainly was not Falcao’s day. He had a sight of goal just before the hour, but his shot was saved by Juan Pablo. Then with 15 minutes left, a Salvio cross from the right was headed straight at Juan Pablo, when most would have expected him to score. Five minutes later, Falcao again was set up by Salvio, but his shot was again comfortably saved by the home keeper.
There was still time for Sporting to have one more chance, as Colunga was put through on goal, but his attempt was smothered by Thibaut Courtois.
The result means Sporting are still firmly within the relegation zone. New manager Clemente has a real job on his hands to escape the drop. Los Colchoneros, on the other hand, are still in touch of a Champions League place this season.