Joo Felix was knocked out and Antoine Griezmann failed to score again as Atletico Madrid were held to a goalless draw by Athletic Bilbao in a bad-tempered contest on Saturday. Griezmann started ahead of Luis Suarez, but was replaced by Uruguay after 55 minutes at the Wanda Metropolitano without recording a shot on goal. Felix also came as Atletico chased down a winner, only to be shown a second yellow card for dissent, with the 21-year-old throwing the ball into the crowd in despair. The ball hit an Atletico supporter, who was not seriously hurt but was driven out of the stadium.
The stalemate is Atletico’s second in four days after Wednesday’s draw at home to Porto in the Champions League, suggesting Diego Simeone still has to find a formula that makes best use of its wealth of attacking options.
The defending champions of La Liga have now drawn two and won three of their opening five matches, while Athletic continued their impressive start under Marcelino García Toral, whose team also drew with Barcelona last month.
They have nine points, two less than their opponents.
Atlético were lashing out at referee Jesus Gil in the later stages and, after the final whistle, a group of players took yellow cards for their opposition.
Felix has cut a disappointing figure this year, unable to justify his 126 million euro price tag, while Griezmann has made three appearances since returning from Barcelona but has so far made no impact.
The Frenchman was whistled mid-week by his own fans and this time the reception was slightly warmer, but he did little to please Atletico supporters.
Griezmann went closest after 57 seconds, when he reached the forward post but his shot flew off, and then he controlled another cross shortly after, but was unable to power the finish.
Iaki Williams volleyed shortly before half-time and then the best chance of the match was to put Athletic in front, stealing the ball from Jose Jiménez and running clear. With only Jan Oblak defeated, Williams sidefooted wide.
Simeone introduced Suarez, Yannick Carrasco, Hector Herrera and Felix around the hour and Carrasco released Suarez but the ball got stuck under his feet.
When Marcos Llorente crashed a shot against the post, there was a headwind behind Atletico, only for Felix to boil over.
The Portuguese had his shirt pulled back by Unai Vensedar, but the free-kick went the athletic way, much to Felix’s disappointment. He yelled at the referee, patted his finger against his temple and watched a second yellow card go up.
Athletic should have won it late, but Asier Villalibre banged high, only to beat Oblak.
Atlético were furious when Gil blew the final whistle and Carrasco sent clear, but the six-minute stoppage time was up.
Former Atleti striker Radamel Falcao had earlier turned back years in a dream debut for Rio Vallecano as the 35-year-old scored in a 3-0 win over Getafe.
Falcao came off the bench for Randy Nteca in the 71st minute and scored in the 82nd minute to salute the enthusiastic home fans in Valleques.
The Colombian caught a through ball from Pathé Sies into the right channel and fired a sizzling shot behind David Soria and into the far corner.
Falcao has returned to Spain eight years after joining Atlético Madrid to Monaco, where he became one of the world’s deadliest strikers and won the Europa League, as well as the Copa del Rey.
But injuries have plagued his form and after scoring 19 goals in 34 league games for Galatasaray in two stop-start seasons, he was released, allowing Rayo to make his move.
Rayo is back in Spain’s top flight after being promoted last stint and made an encouraging start, with their win over Getafe giving them seven points in their first five games.