Real Madrid returned to the top of La Liga as they made it six wins from six by beating cross-city rivals Atletico 2-1. The visitors did all the damage before the break at the Wanda, with goals from Rodrygo and Federico Valverde putting the game almost out of sight by half-time.
The hosts had a couple of chances early on as Felipe sent a looping header narrowly over, while Yannick Carrasco found the side netting. It was Real who took the lead though, with Rodrygo rounding off a stunning move as he thumped into the back of the net after receiving Aurelien Tchouameni’s ball over the top.
Antoine Griezmann stung the fingertips of Thibaut Courtois as Atletico looked for a response, with the Frenchman seeing his 25-yard piledriver tipped around the post. But Los Blancos doubled their lead just after the half-hour when Valverde converted from a tight angle, profiting from a rebound after Vinicius Jr burst into the box and rattled the woodwork.
The second half was a little bit flatter, with Real content to sit back and allow Atleti to have plenty of the ball. Carlo Ancelotti’s side defended their 18-yard box well, but the hosts would have been disappointed with their final ball, wasting numerous crossing opportunities from both corners and open play.
Diego Simeone made a string of substitutions as he tried to find a way back into the game, with top scorer Alvaro Morato and Saul Niguez among those brought on. But it was a defender who had an impact in the end, as Courtois flapped at a corner, with the ball then hitting Mario Hermoso on the shoulder and bouncing fortuitously into the net.
Hermoso’s role as potential hero disintegrated late on, however, as he was sent off for a second bookable offence.
TALKING POINT – GRIEZMANN GETS A START!
The Antoine Griezmann situation is absolutely wild but to sum up: he’s on loan at Atletico from Barca, and if he’s on the pitch for an average of over 45 minutes in all the games he’s available for, Atleti are obliged to buy him for €40m.
Now, Diego Simeone’s side can’t really afford to do that, so they’ve been bringing the French international off the bench every week, with his services summoned for after the 62nd, 62nd, 64th, 63rd, 61st, 63rd and 63rd minute so far.
Today, though, Griezmann was in from the start, and although there were flashes of brilliance, he also grew sluggish as the game went on and struggled to have the consistent sparkles of days gone by.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – VINICIUS JR (REAL MADRID)
The Brazilian was involved in pretty much all of the visitor’s attacking play, with his pace causing Atletico problems whenever he turned on the afterburners.
The striker, who was the subject of racist abuse outside the stadium before the match, had the bit between his teeth throughout the evening, and it was his bursting run down the left that led to the second as his shot bounced off the post into the path of Valverde.
And he was a danger throughout the second half too, using that pace to run onto long balls over the top as Real played on the counter attack and looked to run down the clock by sending their striker deep into opposition territory.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak 6; Felipe 6, Witsel 6, Reinildo 5; Llorente 6, de Paul 6, Kondogbia 6, Koke 6, Carrasco 7, Griezmann 6, Felix 5. Subs: Cunha 6, Morata 6, Corrêa 6, Hermoso 5.
REAL MADRID: Courtois 7, Carvajal 7, Militao 7, Alaba 7, Mendy 6; Modric 7, Tchounameni 8, Kroos 7; Valverde 7, Rodrygo 8, Vinicius Jr 8. Subs: Rudiger 6, Ceballos n/a, Asensio n/a, Camavinga n/a.
18’ GOAL! Atletico 0-1 Real (Rodrygo): Wow! What a stunner! Real net with their first shot and it’s a beauty. An absolutely gorgeous ball over the top by Aurelien Tchouameni, Felipe doesn’t cut it out and Rodrygo thumps home his third of the season.
25’ GRIEZMANN SHOT SAVED. Stunning play from the Frenchman. He bounces through one tackle, breaks forward and smashes a shot goalwards from 25-yards, only for Courtois to tip around the post
36’ GOAL! Atletico 0-2 Real (Valverde): Real double their lead! Vinicius jr bursts into the box and rattles the woodwork with his shot, but the ball bounces back out to Federico Valverde, who converts from a tight angle. Atleti have a mountain to climb!
83’ GOAL! Atletico 1-2 Real (Hermoso): Well, that’s come from absolutely nowhere! A corner into the box causes problems once more, and it just hits Hermoso on the shoulder and goes in. Courtois came for the ball and got nowhere near it again. They’re back in it!
90’ RED CARD! Hermoso goes from hero to villain! He picks up another yellow card for an off the ball shove on Ceballos. So naive!