A worrying head injury suffered by Fernando Torres overshadowed Antoine Griezmann’s brilliant equaliser as Atletico Madrid salvaged a 1-1 draw away to struggling Deportivo La Coruna in LaLiga on Thursday.
Deportivo’s top scorer Florin Andone gave the hosts an early lead with his eighth league goal of the season after capitalising on blunders from Jan Oblak and Jose Gimenez.
Griezmann got Atletico back on level terms by netting a magnificent strike with 22 minutes remaining, before both sides came close to finding a winner in a tense finish.
Diego Simeone’s men had to finish the match with 10 men, Torres appearing to be knocked out following a clash of heads with Alex Bergantinos in the closing minutes.
The striker left the field on a stretcher after a lengthy delay, with some players close to tears at the sight of the stricken forward lying prone on the turf.
The draw sees Atletico stay fourth and move one point ahead of Real Sociedad, their closest rivals for a Champions League qualification spot.
Depor’s point halts a run of four consecutive league defeats and sees them open up a gap of one to the relegation zone, with new boss Pepe Mel overseeing a solid performance in his first match in charge.
The hosts took the lead in bizarre fashion after 13 minutes, with Oblak and Gimenez to blame when the goalkeeper took a poor goal-kick and his defender failed to control with a slack touch.
That allowed Andone to race clear and beat Oblak with a low strike into the bottom corner, the Romania international subsequently booked for his passionate celebrations with the home crowd.
Depor threatened again when Juanfran lashed a long-range drive over and they came even closer when Gael Kakuta failed to hit the target with a tame finish after being slipped through by Pedro Mosquera.
Atletico, who made three changes, tested home keeper German Lux for the first time just after the half-hour mark as Angel Correa’s low strike was kept out, but that was it for the visitors in the first half.
Indeed, they went into the break having survived a penalty claim for handball against Diego Godin, before Oblak impressively kept out an acrobatic Mosquera volley.
Diego Simeone made a double change early in the second half, bringing on Yannick Carrasco and Nicolas Gaitan for Koke and Correa.
When Griezmann could only send a free-kick straight into the wall from a promising position, Simeone then used his final change, bringing on Torres for Kevin Gameiro.
A quiet match burst into life in the closing stages, with Filipe Luis thinking he had levelled after collecting a pass from Gaitan and hitting the post with a stunning long-range drive.
But Atletico did draw level after Deportivo failed to properly clear, Griezmann exchanging passes with Carrasco before catching Lux off his line with a stunning, dipping 30-yard strike to net his 10th league goal of the season.
4 – Four of the ten @AntoGriezmann goals this season in Spanish La Liga have been from outside the box. Missile pic.twitter.com/F25uJ5I988
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 2, 2017
Andone somehow failed to connect with Faycal Fajr’s right-wing cross when he appeared destined to score from point-blank range at the other end.
Atletico, meanwhile, thought they had a winner as Torres collected Gaitan’s pass and saw his powerful strike saved by a superb one-handed save from Lux.
Neither side found a winner in the seven minutes of added time after a long stoppage to treat Torres, who appeared to be knocked out before his head smashed against the turf following his clash with Bergantinos.