Bilbao hold Atlético 0-0; Falcao makes his Rayo debut



BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Diego Simeone has joined the elite of football coaches by building rock-solid defenses that deliver victories with the bare minimum of flash up front.

But now, with the greatest wealth of attacking talent of his decade at the helm of Atletico Madrid, the Argentine is struggling to make that click.

Ten-a-side Atlético were held in check for a second straight scoreless draw at home on Saturday after being thwarted by Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish league.

Atlético, who have scored more than two goals in any of their six appearances this season, were also held 0-0 by Porto at home in their Champions League opener on Wednesday.

And this despite the return of Antoine Griezmann to the club to reinforce an attack which also counts on Luis Suárez, João Félix, Ángel Correa, Marcos Llorente, Yannick Carrasco, and the newcomer Matheus Cunha.

“I won’t be looking for excuses,” Simeone said. “I believe in my team and my players, and we are going to work hard so that these big names can do what they always did, which is to score goals.”

Atlético were deprived of midfielder Koke Resurrección, the midfielder who leads the reigning champion’s transitions from defense to attacking, after injuring a leg muscle against Porto.

Llorente came closest to the hosts when his 75th-minute shot from outside the box hit the post.

Three minutes later, Atlético lost a man when Felix received two consecutive yellow cards. The referee initially booked it for hitting a defender who was clinging to his jersey from behind. Felix, who was not looking at the player when his hand hit his face, was quickly given a second warning when he protested vehemently.

Bilbao almost took advantage of the power play, but substitute Asier Villalibre missed a perfect opportunity to grab a stoppage winner when he shot high with only goalkeeper Jan Olbak to beat from close range.

Atlético have taken a point lead at the top of the table, but Real Madrid, Valencia and Real Sociedad can overtake him on Sunday.

Griezmann has made his first start since returning to Atlético on loan from Barcelona. The French striker’s only chance at a goal came in the opening minutes when he landed a cross from Llorente from top to bottom. He was replaced by Suárez at the start of the second half.

Atlético and Bilbao both went unbeaten in five rounds.


Former Atlético star Radamel Falcao made a perfect start for Rayo Vallecano, scoring 10 minutes after being late substitute to end a 3-0 win over Getafe in a derby between the two smaller clubs in the Spanish capital .

The veteran striker continued as a substitute in the 71st minute with Rayo ahead 1-0. Midfielder Pathé Ciss doubled the lead shortly before setting up Falcao with a pass for the Colombian to score from an angle.

Falcao, 35, signed with Rayo this month as a free agent.

“I had dreamed of being able to go there and score a goal,” said Falcao. “My teammates have supported me a lot. I feel at home.

Many Rayo fans remember Falcao’s two seasons with Atlético from 2011 to 2013, when he helped him win the Europa League and the Copa del Rey. He went to Monaco, Manchester United, Chelsea and Galatasaray, where he played until the end of last season.


Former Paris Saint-Germain and Roma Javier Pastore made his debut for Elche as a substitute as he drew at home with Levante 1-1.

Levante striker José Morales called Lucas Pérez’s first game off for Elche.

Osasuna continued their strong start and climbed to sixth place after David García and Roberto Torres scored in a 2-0 victory at Alavés.

Alavés was left in last place with zero points.


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