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Koke: Atletico will fight to the end in La Liga

Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke refused to concede his team’s La Liga title chances after a goalless draw with Villarreal saw them lose ground on leaders Barcelona.

Luis Enrique’s defending champions were the only team in the top five to win this weekend, battling to a 2-1 triumph at Las Palmas on Saturday, that puts them eight points clear with 13 matches remaining.

Second-placed Atleti and Villarreal cancelled each other out as a display of their formidable defensive capabilities resulted in a stalemate at the Vicente Calderon.

Diego Simeone’s men remain a point above city rivals Real Madrid, who entertain their near neighbours next weekend having drawn 1-1 at Malaga.

Atletico turn towards Champions League action at PSV before that eagerly awaited encounter and Spain international Koke is not looking too far ahead.

Asked by Movistar Plus whether the Liga title race was finished, he said: “We just go game by game, as always.

“It is the Champions League next, then the Bernabeu [to face Real Madrid].

“We’re second and we will keep fighting until the end to stay near the top.”

He added: “We played with intensity but lacked luck and effectiveness in attack, where we should be more aggressive.

“Villarreal are well organised and they made their game. They played well.”

Star forward Antoine Griezmann passed up arguably Atletico’s best chance when he failed to make a clean connection with Juanfran’s cross before half-time.

The France international was substituted shortly after the hour as he extended his goalless run to five matches, although Koke backed his colleague to turn this slump around.

“He is a great player and he will soon rediscover [his form],” Koke said.

Sun 21 Feb, 2016
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