Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone said he was happy to take a point away from the visit to Villarreal after facing “one of the best teams in LaLiga”.
Angel Correa struck a sensational opener after 10 minutes, the Argentina international intercepting Daniel Parejo’s sloppy pass and firing over Geronimo Rulli from just inside the Villarreal half.
Opta calculated his breathtaking effort to have an expected goal (xG) indicator of just 0.0166 – the lowest for a goal in LaLiga this season.
However, the hosts pulled level before half-time through Pau Torres, shortly after Gerard Moreno had seen a penalty saved by Jan Oblak.
Alberto Moreno put Unai Emery’s side ahead after the break but Geoffrey Kondogbia, who was sent off deep into stoppage time after picking up a second yellow card, sealed a point with his first goal for the club in the 67th minute.
That goal snapped Los Colchoneros’ run of three straight LaLiga defeats on the road, and Simeone was pleased with his players’ efforts against a strong and spirited Villarreal side.
7 – Diego Simeone has more draws against Unai Emery as Atlético de Madrid coach than against any other coach in his entire LaLiga managerial career (W5 D7 L0). Equality. pic.twitter.com/E1djiWdQGO
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 9, 2022
“It was a difficult game,” he told Movistar. “For me, Villarreal is one of the best teams in LaLiga. They defend well, they are organised at the back and attack very well.
“When [Matheus] Cunha didn’t score a second with his chance they grew into the game. They played a good first half and continued that in the second.
“They put themselves ahead but then a different Atletico Madrid appeared. We leave with positives and lots of things to correct.
“We have been fighting and working to improve ourselves. Today we did a lot of good things and we are on a quest to keep improving things.”
Marcos Llorente echoed Simeone’s sentiments, saying Atleti need to sharpen up if they are to turn draws into wins.
“We always want victory,” he said. “But having gone two goals down it was good to see the reaction of the team. It is a point that has been fought for and won. We wanted all three, but we are happy with the reaction of the team.
“We always want more. In the second half we have managed to generate chances. If we correct the errors we know we can win games.”
The result lifted Atleti above Real Sociedad into fourth, with Llorente acknowledging the battle for a Champions League place could go right to the wire.
“You can see that it is going to be a very tight fight up there,” he added. “There are teams that are doing things very well. Winning three points is very complicated. If you are not at 100 per cent anyone can take them away from you.”