Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil gave Real Madrid a 2-0 derby win at home over a disappointing Atletico Madrid to keep Los Merengues in reach of Liga leaders Barcelona.
Going into the match 14 points behind Barca and eight shy of second-placed Atletico, Real have had to deal with supporter unrest in recent weeks but responded by easily seeing off their city rivals, who were poor by the standards they have set this season.
Indeed, Iker Casillas was barely tested as Radamel Falcao found himself limited to the occasional long shot in Atletico's primary bid to provoke Real, who dominated possession.
The result keeps Real third, but cuts their deficit on Atletico to five points. Los Blancos have also now extended their unbeaten run against their neighbours to 24 matches in all competitions.
The defending Liga champions had a point to prove against their city rivals, who have scored their way to second in the standings.
It promised much, but the reality bit hard in a poor first half as a negative Atletico focused on histrionics and spoiling, with Falcao feeding off scraps and embarrassing himself by rolling about in agony after Sergio Ramos’s arm brushed his ear.
The only attacking incidents of note were for Real, the first of which saw Ronaldo thunder a trademark free-kick over the wall and into the top left from 30 yards at the 16-minute mark.
The Portuguese star was responsible for the other highlight of a dreary first half, again from range after a clever quick free-kick from Xabi Alonso – this time Thibaut Courtois saved well to his right.
The second half begun with Real on the offensive, coming forward in waves with the quiet Karim Benzema’s driven cross batted out by Courtois.
A brief attacking spell for the visitors gave them hope, although it was spoiled by a sly slap from Diego Costa on Ramos, missed by the referee, as was his mini-headbutt on the Spain defender in the first half.
The game then degenerated into a dirge, with Atletico offering nothing but negativity and Real limited to the occasional promising move, the best of which saw Ronaldo flash an effort just wide.
Limited, that was, until a marvellous backheel from Benzema picked out Ronaldo, whose attempt to complete a one-two was halted – he was still able to pick out Ozil, who fired home on the turn for 2-0.
Atletico remained negative as Real went close to a third, Ronaldo twice hitting the woodwork, with a free-kick and a driven finish from a tight angle.
Mario Suarez was fortunate that the officials missed a nasty tread on Ozil’s heel, with the German also lucky not to suffer a serious injury, while Atletico’s night was summed up when substitute Adrian Lopez flung himself to the ground when Ramos went shoulder to shoulder with him – had he not been so theatrical he may have won a penalty.
Real played out the final minutes with little trouble to stay 11 points behind the leaders - and just five off Atletico, who may well have been found out after their fine start to the season.
- Sports & Recreation
- Cristiano Ronaldo
- Atletico Madrid
- Mesut Ozil
- Radamel Falcao