MADRID (AP) – AtlÃ©tico Madridâ€™s struggles continued as its season resumed with a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday for its third straight draw in the Spanish league.
The setback kept Diego Simeoneâ€™s team in sixth place, outside the Champions League spots.
The goals at the empty San MamÃ©s Stadium came a couple of minutes apart late in the first half, with Athletic’s Iker Muniain scoring first and AtlÃ©tico equalizing with a goal from Diego Costa.
It was the 13th league draw for AtlÃ©tico, which has only two wins in its last nine league matches.
â€œWe earned a draw at a tough place but we need to start winning three points if we want to stay in contention to qualify for the Champions League,” AtlÃ©tico midfielder Jorge â€œKokeâ€ ResurrecciÃ³n said. “It will be difficult if we don’t start winning matches.â€
The league resumed Thursday after more than three months since being interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. Leader Barcelona opened with a 4-0 rout at Mallorca on Saturday, while second-place Real Madrid hosts Eibar later Sunday.
AtlÃ©ticoâ€™s last match before the break had been an away victory against Liverpool that eliminated the titleholders in the Champions League round of 16. But AtlÃ©tico had drawn its last two league matches – against Sevilla and Espanyol – to drop in the standings and remain far from the leaders. It trails Barcelona by 15 points with 10 rounds left.
AtlÃ©tico has the same 46 points as fifth-place Getafe and fourth-place Real Sociedad. Getafe lost at Granada on Friday, while Sociedad hosts Osasuna later Sunday.
Athletic, which had won two in a row before the break, stayed in 10th place.
Muniain opened the scoring for the hosts from inside the area in the 37th minute but Costa equalized two minutes later after a well-placed throughball by â€œKoke.â€
It was the first goal for Costa since a league game last October. During the celebration, he held the jersey of AtlÃ©tico womenâ€™s team player Virginia Torrecilla, who is recovering from brain surgery to remove a tumor.
AtlÃ©tico defender Santiago Arias had a chance for the winner in the 80th but his close-range shot was saved by Athletic goalkeeper Unai SimÃ³n.
Simeone made all five substitutions that are now being allowed for teams, while Athleticâ€™s Gaizka Garitano made four.
It was Athleticâ€™s first game since striker Aritz Aduriz announced his retirement. The 39-year-old Aduriz decided not to come back once the season resumed after doctors said he would need a hip replacement.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni