VALENCIA, Spain (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid’s disappointing season continued as they shared the spoils with Valencia in a thrilling 2-2 draw in La Liga at Mestalla on Friday.
Marcos Llorente put Atletico ahead after 15 minutes when he stabbed home from close range, with Gabriel Paulista equalising five minutes before the break.
Atletico went back in front three minutes later when Thomas Partey smashed home a low drive from distance but Valencia’s Geoffrey Kondogbia bundled the ball past goalkeeper Jan Oblak in the 59th minute to level the scores again.
Kevin Gameiro should have put Valencia ahead but lashed a golden chance over the bar after the electric Ferran Torres’s brilliant run and cross.
Sixth-placed Valencia finished by far the stronger, with the draw putting them on 38 points. Atletico, in fourth, have 40 but are 12 adrift of leaders Real Madrid having played a game more.
The hosts were thrashed 3-0 at Getafe last weekend but bounced back strongly with an energetic display against Diego Simeone’s side to satisfy their demanding fans.
“I don’t know if the draw is fair, we had a great game against a tough opponent but we had the chances to win,” said Valencia coach Albert Celades.
“We had a great second half and made the chances to win but it was a draw. Everyone wants to move forward, everyone wants to win, we put in good performances at home.”
Atletico, who host Liverpool in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday, were able to bring on striker Alvaro Morata in the second half for his comeback from a muscle injury.
The Spaniard almost snatched a goal for the visitors but Jaume Domenech made a good save to keep out his header.
“We understand in the world of football when you’re on a bad run, doubts appear, questions appear, when you win three or four in a row it all disappears,” said Llorente.
Simeone, who insists this is a transition season for his team, was pleased with the draw.
“Valencia are very strong at home, haven’t lost all season and tonight came back twice. I leave with very good feelings, we made a great effort,” said the coach.
Reporting by Rik Sharma in Barcelona; Editing by Ken Ferris
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