Atlético Madrid and Suárez held again in Spanish league

MADRID (AP) — Atlético Madrid struggled again with Luis Suárez in attack, and was held by Villarreal for its second straight 0-0 draw in the Spanish league on Saturday.

After opening with a 6-1 rout of Granada — with Suárez coming off the bench and scoring twice — Atlético had played to a scoreless draw at promoted Huesca. That game marked the Uruguay striker’s first start with his new club after being told by Barcelona that he wasn’t wanted anymore.

Suárez and the rest of Atlético’s team had a lackluster performance then, and again on Saturday against Villarreal. They were unable to create significant scoring chances at its Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

Villarreal squandered a few good opportunities to come away with the victory, frustrated by Atlético goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

“They played a great match and didn’t leave us any space to play,” Oblak said. “We should have done more but we couldn’t. The draw was not what we wanted.”

Unai Emery’s Villarreal, which entered the season amid high expectations, was coming off two wins from its first four matches. It lost 4-0 to Barcelona at the Camp Nou Stadium last weekend.

“We had our chances, but in the end it was a fair result,” Villarreal defender Mario Gaspar said.

Expectations also rose for Atlético after it signed Suárez and he scored two goals and set up another in about 20 minutes off the bench against Granada, but there was only disappointment after the consecutive scoreless draws going into the international break.

Suárez, starting in place of Diego Costa and playing alongside Portuguese forward João Félix, had few chances in front of goal, just as had happened against Huesca.

“It was good to start with a win, but if we can’t keep it up, the euphoria diminishes,” Oblak said. “We have to keep working and keep improving so we can continue winning matches.”

Atlético coach Diego Simeone was seeking his 200th Spanish league victory.

EIBAR WINS

A 90th-minute goal by Kevin Rodrigues gave 10-man Eibar a 2-1 victory over Valladolid in a match between winless teams.

Eibar earned the points despite playing a man down from the 73rd because of a red card for midfielder Pape Diop. The visitors opened the scoring with Esteban Burgos converting a penalty kick in the 29th, but Toni Villa equalized for Valladolid in the 37th.

Eibar had opened with a home draw against Celta Vigo before losing three straight. Valladolid, owned by former Brazil great Ronaldo, was coming off two draws and two losses in its first four matches to start the season.

Real Madrid visits Levante on Sunday, and Barcelona hosts Sevilla.

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