MADRID — Atletico Madrid struggled again and yet avoided defeat in the Spanish league thanks to a decisive performance by goalkeeper Jan Oblak in a 0-0 draw at Leganes on Saturday.
The result came three days after Atletico’s first loss of the season, to Chelsea in the Champions League, when Diego Simeone’s team also played poorly and conceded a last-minute goal.
Oblak had to make three great saves to keep Atletico from losing to Leganes.
The result dropped Atletico to third place in the league standings, three points behind leader Barcelona, which hosts Las Palmas on Sunday in a match that will be played amid a controversial vote for Catalonia’s independence.
Sevilla moved into second place, two points behind Barcelona, by defeating Malaga 2-0 at home.
Defending champion Real Madrid hosts Espanyol on Sunday.
OBLAK SAVES ATLETICO
Leganes, in its second season in the first division, remained seventh after its third straight game without a loss. It has conceded only three goals, and it threatened the most at Butarque Stadium, forcing Oblak to come up with big saves, including one in the final minutes.
"We had most of the chances and deserved more, but against a team like Atletico, even playing at home, it’s positive to win one point," Leganes goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar said. "We are off to a good start but it’s still early. It’s good because it gives us confidence about the work that we have been doing so far."
Atletico’s main chance was a header by Diego Godin that was brilliantly saved by Cuellar midway through the second half.
"They played smart. We couldn’t get into the game," Atletico defender Jose Gimenez said.
Atletico was unable to take control of the game, even after Simeone tried to shake things up by changing formation. At one point he replaced forward Antoine Griezmann with defender Sime Vrsaljko, and moved more players to the midfield to try to create more chances.
He started the game with three central defenders in a change from previous matches.
"You could notice that the team was tired after the effort (against Chelsea) on Wednesday," Simeone said. "It was a fair result in the end."
Sevilla defeated Malaga at home with goals two minutes apart in the second half.
Sevilla earned its fourth win in the last five matches in all competitions.
"We dominated the entire game, we just had to find a way to score," Luis Muriel said.
It was Malaga’s sixth loss in seven league matches, dropping it to last place.
"We were playing our best when we conceded the goals," Malaga defender Miguel Torres said. "Unfortunately we made some mistakes. We have to apologize to the fans. It’s been a tough start to the season."
WIN AT LAST
Alaves finally earned its first win, at Levante 2-0. Alaves lost its previous six matches, scoring only once.
It was a surprising start for the team which last season finished in the top half of the standings and made it to the Copa del Rey final.
Levante, back in the first division after being relegated a season ago, stayed ninth.
Florin Andone scored an 87th-minute winner to help Deportivo La Coruna come from behind and defeat Getafe 2-1.
Deportivo had lost three of its last four league matches and Spanish media said club directors had already decided to fire coach Pepe Mel if the team didn’t win Saturday’s home game.