Atletico Madrid secured a vital win in their hunt for a top-four finish as they beat city rivals Real Madrid 1-0.
Carlo Ancelotti made seven changes from the side that completed an incredible comeback in the Champions League semi-final against Man City and his side were well off their best in the first half.
The hosts deservedly went ahead when Angel Correa ran through on goal and was tripped by Jesus Vallejo in the box. The referee went to the VAR monitor after initially waving away Atleti’s protests and gave a penalty. Yannick Carrasco stepped up and scored confidently, putting them ahead.
The Liga champions improved after the break but failed to create any major chances.
The best opportunities fell to the hosts as Carrasco hit the post and Antoine Griezmann missed two golden opportunities to prevent a frantic finish.
Despite late Real Madrid pressure Atletico showed their defensive resilience and held on against this season’s champions – and the win leaves them six points clear of Real Betis in the race for fourth with three games remaining.
TALKING POINT – ATLETICO BUST DEFENSIVE MYTH
Diego Simeone’s side have a reputation for being defensively solid and they proved that again as Real Madrid threw everything at them late in the game as the visitors searched for an equaliser. However, this performance should be remembered for Atleti’s great attacking play. They suffocated the opposition in the first half via fantastic pressing and kept the ball in their attacking half for long periods. However, they lacked a creator to unlock the door but were eventually rewarded with a penalty. Despite Los Blancos upping the tempo after half time they still attacked well as the substitute Griezmann lit up the game with some great skill; he will feel he should’ve scored. It could’ve easily been more than 1-0.
MAN OF THE MATCH – GEOFFERY KONDOGBIA – ATLETICO MADRID
He was the heartbeat of the midfield, breaking up play so well, helping his side sustain attacks and he also proved useful in possession by playing some intelligent passes into the two strikers such as Matheus Cunha and Griezmann.As the end of the game approached and Atletico hoped to hang on, his defensive skills were again on show as he protected the back four well. A complete box-to-box midfield display.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak 8, Vrasljko 7, Savic 8, Gimenez 8, Reinildo 8, Llorente 6, Koke 7, Kondogbia 9, Carrasco 8, Correa 6, Cunha 8. Subs: Griezmann 7, Felipe 7, De Paul 6, Lodi 6.
Real Madrid: Lunin 7, Vazquez 6, Militao 6, Vallejo 6, Nacho 8, Kroos 7, Casemiro 6, Camavinga 8, Rodrygo 6, Asensio 6, Jovic 5. Subs: Valverde 7, Vinicius 7, Modric 7, Mendy 6.
39′ – PENALTY GIVEN – Correa runs through on goal and is sandwiched by Militao and Vallejo. The ref is heading to the VAR screen. The footage shows Vallejo stepping on Correa and it is a penalty to Atletico.
40′ – GOAL (CARRASCO) – Carrasco steps up for Atletico and breaks the deadlock. A big run up from the Belgian and he sends Lunin the wrong way.
78′ – OFF THE POST – Carrasco is through on goal. He again goes for the near post as he sits Lunin down by delaying his shot and it cannons off the woodwork. It’s not just Griezmann missing it’s contagious. How many opportunities do you want Atletico?