MADRID (AP) — On a night when Diego Simeone mourned the loss of former teammate and compatriot Diego Maradona, Atlético Madrid missed a chance to move closer to a spot in the knockout stage of the Champions League after a 0-0 draw at home against Lokomotiv Moscow on Wednesday.
A moment of silence was held before the match in honor Maradona, the former Argentina great who died earlier Wednesday. His image was shown on the big screen at the Metropolitano during the moment of silence.
Simeone is among the many Argentines currently with Atlético.
“It’s tough,” said Simeone, who was Maradona’s teammate at Spanish club Sevilla in the early 1990s. “For all of us who shared experiences with Diego, we are losing a myth. We grew up looking up at Diego, he was our guide in soccer. It hurts. He took care of me personally. He will still be around the football fields. He was and still is the best in the world.”
Atlético’s second consecutive draw against Lokomotiv left Simeone’s team with five points from four matches in Group A. It is two points ahead of winless Lokomotiv and seven behind defending champion Bayern Munich, which stayed top with 12 points after beating last-place Salzburg 3-1 at home.
Atlético and Lokomotiv had drawn 1-1 in Moscow.
“We are upset,” Atlético captain Jorge “Koke” Resurrección said. “We tried everything but couldn’t get the win, and in the Champions League you need the three points to advance.”
Atlético got off to a good start at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium and created several scoring opportunities early in the first half, but with time Lokomotiv became better organized defensively and even threatened a few times on counterattacks.
“We started with a lot of intensity and could have scored in the first 20 minutes,” Simeone said. “But things got difficult as the time passed. We have been struggling a bit in the Champions League. Hopefully we will be able to turn things around in the next match.”
Atlético next hosts Bayern Munich, and its last group game will be at Salzburg.
Atlético came closest when Koke’s goal in the 68th minute was disallowed for offside after video review. Defender Stefan Savic later missed the open net with a lob that never made it to the goal, and José María Giménez’s header in the 88th just went wide of the post.
“The ball just wouldn’t go in,” Koke said. “We have to step up our game to win these matches.”
Wednesday’s draw extended Atlético’s unbeaten streak at home to 20 matches. A group-stage loss to Chelsea in 2017 was its only defeat in its last 28 European games at home.
Atlético was without striker Luis Suárez and midfielder Lucas Torreira, who recently tested positive for COVID-19 while with Uruguay’s national team. Simeone also couldn’t count on striker Diego Costa because of a right leg blood clot detected on Wednesday, an ailment that could keep the Brazil-born player sidelined for several weeks.
Simeone used Ángel Correa in attack alongside Portugal forward João Félix but they were not able to spark the team’s attack.
Atlético was coming off five straight wins in the Spanish league, including a 1-0 victory at home against Barcelona at the Metropolitano on Saturday.
“We have been doing well in the league, we have been playing well, but we need to win these matches in the Champions League,” said Koke after his 100th European appearance, the most for any player in Atlético’s history.
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