Atletico suffer defeat at Betis in Morata debut
Atletico Madrid fell to their first LaLiga defeat in five months as they were beaten 1-0 at Real Betis on Sunday, missing a golden chance to close the gap with leaders Barcelona and slipping six points adrift of the Catalans.
Alvaro Morata made his debut for Atletico after completing a loan move from Chelsea, but it was another former Real Madrid player in Sergio Canales who made the difference.
He scored a penalty midway through the second half to give Betis a victory which took them up to sixth in the table.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone was without five regular starters but was still able to field what looked to be an exciting, attacking lineup with pacey wingers Angel Correa and Thomas Lemar and Morata partnering the talismanic Antoine Griezmann up front.
Barca’s 2-2 draw with Valencia a day earlier had given Atletico the opportunity to move within three points of their title rivals, though Atletico failed to take advantage of that opportunity.
“We cannot be happy as we failed to close the gap with Barca. It was a very even game, but we can’t afford to dwell any more on this, we have to think about our next game immediately,” said Atletico defender Juanfran.
“No-one here is going to give up because there’s still a long way to go in the season.”
“Both teams had few chances and we couldn’t find a solution as the minutes ticked down,” said Simeone.
“Morata had a good game considering it was his first game and we hope he will be able to contribute more to the team the longer he spends with us. I’m trying to be optimistic, at least we are only six points behind as Barca drew, and the distance could have been bigger.”
REUTERS/Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Toby Davis