By: Reuters | Madrid | Updated: September 30, 2018 6:11:32 am
Real Madrid failed to capitalise on Barcelona’s surprise 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao on Saturday as they were thwarted by two outstanding saves by Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak in an entertaining 0-0 derby draw in La Liga.
Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois also made two exceptional saves to frustrate Atletico strikers Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa in the first half while Gareth Bale was forced off at halftime with a suspected groin problem.
Bale had come close to scoring for Real, who improved after the interval and almost snatched a winner in stoppage time when captain Sergio Ramos headed narrowly wide from a corner.
Slovenian international Oblak helped Atletico withstand a flurry of Real attacks, denying Marco Asensio at point-blank range and later turning away a stinging shot from Dani Carvajal from inside the area.
Real have now failed to beat Atletico at home in the league in their last six attempts, with their last victory coming in December 2012 when Jose Mourinho was in charge.
“I’m not satisfied with the result because we always want to win and we deserved to win,” said Real boss Julen Lopetegui.
“The team kept growing as the game went on, we were the far better team and had clear chances, but football games are decided by goals, not by whether you deserved to win.”
Atletico coach Diego Simeone added: “Watching how we played in the first half I leave with a bitter taste at not winning, but then looking at the second half I think a draw is fair.”
Real are joint-top of the standings, locked on 14 points with Barcelona, who have a slightly superior goal difference despite stumbling to a draw with Bilbao after starting the game with talisman Lionel Messi on the bench.
Atletico, on 12 points, drop down to fourth, while Sevilla climb into third with 13 points after winning 3-1 at Eibar in a game that had to be stopped for several minutes after a barrier collapsed. The incident left Sevilla supporters spilling on to the pitch and eight people were taken to hospital with injuries.
Elsewhere, Valencia finally picked up a first win of the season by beating Real Sociedad 1-0 away, helped by goalkeeper Neto saving a penalty from Willian Jose.
Barca substitute Munir El Haddadi averted a first home defeat for the Catalans in more than two years by sliding in an equaliser in the 84th minute, meeting a cross by Messi who had been sent on, along with Busquets, in the second half as Barca chased the game.
Oscar de Marcos had given Athletic a deserved lead in the 41st minute with a volley after Inaki Williams had missed two clear chances to score for the Basque side, who had not picked up a point at the Nou Camp since 2004 when current Barca coach Ernesto Valverde was in charge.
Despite drawing at home to Girona and losing at minnows Leganes after starting without key first-team players, Valverde made the eye-catching decision to field a starting XI without midfield anchor Busquets and all-time top scorer Messi.
“I have to judge the games we have coming up and we have four games in the space of 10 days,” Valverde, whose side will face Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League on Wednesday, told a news conference.
“I have to think about what might happen and I thought Leo and Busquets had to rest.”