MADRID (AFP) – Real Madrid reignited their La Liga title push on Saturday (Dec 12) beating leaders Atletico 2-0 as their city rivals suffered a first league defeat of the season.
Real, who salvaged their Champions League campaign in midweek by making the last 16, moved to third in the table, three points behind Atletico.
It was a disappointing night for Diego Simeone’s side who had boasted a 26-match unbeaten run in the league, stretching back to February.
That was a run which consisted of 17 wins and nine draws. Real had been the last team to beat Atletico in the league.
Zinedine Zidane’s team were in front after 15 minutes when Casemiro headed home a corner from Toni Kroos.
That was reward for Real’s early pressure which had seen Karim Benzema denied by a fine save from Jan Oblak moments earlier.
Atletico, who also made the Champions League knockout round in midweek, struggled to make any impression and star striker Luis Suarez was an anonymous figure up front.
Real went 2-0 up after 63 minutes with Kroos again the provider.
His pass eventually fell for Dani Carvajal who unleashed a 30-metre drive which hit the post but was diverted into the net by the helpless Oblak.
The ‘keeper was credited with an own-goal for his troubles.
It was only the fourth goal conceded by the usually water-tight Atletico defence in 11 league games this season.
It was a night of frustration with Simeone’s men managing just one shot on target.
Egos too were bruised.
Portuguese star Joao Felix showed his displeasure at being replaced by Saul on the hour.
Suarez allowed himself an ironic smile when he too was benched in favour of Geoffrey Kondogbia in the 73rd minute.
In stark contrast, Zidane could be especially pleased for Casemiro who had returned from Covid-19 quarantine while Carvajal had recovered from a right leg injury.
It was a night to remember also for captain Sergio Ramos who was playing in a Madrid derby for the 43rd time, Atletico, meanwhile, could lose top spot on Sunday when second-placed Real Sociedad welcome Eibar.