2017-2018 Spanish Primera División

Atletico Madrid stumble again, held to goalless draw against Real Betis

Atletico Madrid's Angel Correa, right, vies with Real Betis' Algerian midfielder Ryad Boudebouz during the teams' 0-0 draw. Getty Images

Saul Niguez was denied by the crossbar as second-placed Atletico Madrid were held to a 0-0 La Liga draw by Real Betis.

Saul rattled the woodwork with a 74th-minute strike on a day when it was the visitors who created the better chances, but were ultimately made to pay for poor finishing.

In a scrappy first half, it was Europa League semi-finalists Atletico who created the better openings, with Fernando Torres seeing an early header saved by keeper Dani Gimenez, who later limped off to be replaced by Pedro Lopez.

Torres headed just wide four minutes before the break and Ryad Boudebouz called upon keeper Jan Oblak at the other end before Javi Garcia fired wastefully wide in stoppage time.

Garcia passed up a glorious opportunity to put the visitors ahead nine minutes into the second half when he completely missed his kick after being picked out unmarked by Boudebouz, and Cristian Tello clipped the outside of a post with 21 minutes remaining.

However, Atletico midfielder Saul came within inches of breaking the deadlock when he crashed a 74th-minute shot against the crossbar with Lopez beaten.

Oblak produced an instinctive near-post save to keep out Antonio Barragan's effort from a tight angle seven minutes from time, but the deadlock remained unbroken.