From the word go, the Madrid derby was more of a boxing match than a game of football. Despite referee Carlos Delgado facing decisions literally every few seconds, a fantastic end-to-end game managed to break out at the Vicente Calderon. Delgado let many decisions go, much to Cristiano Ronaldo and others’ frustration, but Delgado’s desire to play advantage as much as possible led to one of the games of the season.
The match between 1st and 3rd didn’t take long at all to get going. Atlético kicked off and launched it long – a theme that was to develop further throughout the match. Just a minute later, Real had a free-kick close to their opponents box. Godín conceded a corner and from the corner it was Benzema who beat the offside trap to knock in Di Maria’s cross after a short corner.
The rojiblancos let an early goal affect them in the recent Copa del Rey tie between these two, but that wasn’t the case today. The crowd responded to get behind their team as Atlético and Real battled for every ball.
After ten minutes, the crowd was in a complete uproar. Atlético’s top scorer Diego Costa was able to drive into the box and fell to the ground after definite contact from Sergio Ramos. Perhaps falling to ground a little too dramatically to ground, Costa received neither a penalty nor a last-minute Oscar nomination for his efforts despite deserving both.
The contact from Ramos was clear, but all that Atlético revived was a yellow card for Turan who protested a little too much.
There was more end-to-end action with Real almost doubling their lead through Benzema, who forced a stop from Courtois, and then Ronaldo, whose shot had to be tipped onto the woodwork.
The next goal, however, was to go Atlético’s way. Turan picked up the ball on the wing and drove along the front of the box, unable to find a clear shot on goal. Realising his own path to goal was blocked by several white shirts, Turan picked out the unmarked Koke who drove the ball across Lopez and into the corner of the net, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
There was a stramash in the box not long after when Pepe fell to the floor after what can only be described as a backwards headbutt from Diego Godín. But just like Costa, Pepe would not receive an Academy Awards statuette. Only a yellow card, as did Godín for his part.
With thoughts turning back to football, Costa superbly turned Pepe and
through one on one was blocked by an equally superb Lopez. With not long left
to the break, Altético were definitely in the ascendency and got what they
deserved via a monstrous shot from captain Gabi from 30 yards that sailed past
The roar at the Vicente Calderon may have been one of the loudest ever heard
as the players went in for the break with the net still swaying after Gabi’s powerful drive.
Costa should have added to the lead just five minutes into a second half which continued just as the first had finished, with Atlético pressuring every Real player who dared possess the ball. Costa broke through the defence with Pepe chasing him down, but unwilling to risk fouling what was a goal-scoring opportunity. Costa, however, dragged his shot wide past Diego Lopez's post.
Minutes later, Ronaldo had a free kick a metre outside the box. The Ballon d'Or winner's shot hit the wall, but controversially hit an arm in the wall. Gabi's arm covering his face blocked it, but nothing was given.
On the hour mark, Costa had yet another penalty appeal. This time driving into the right hand side of the rather than the left, the Spaniard was tripped and again Delgado said no. In truth, both should have been given.
Some more déjà vu later and Costa was again appealing for a penalty after falling on the edge of the box. This time, though, Costa was booked for diving and while Costa was himself annoyed at Delgado, that was nothing compared to the rage on the sidelines from Atlético assistant German Barcos, who had to be held back by manager Simeone to stop him making Alan Pardew look like a saint as Barcos certainly looked ready to hit referee Delgado.
With play finally resumed, Courtois had to make a smart stop from Gareth Bale's header. The Welshman was quiet all game and didn’t make the most of this chance. Straight afterwards, though, Diego Lopez was the one saving his side as he had to look alert at the other end to save from a Turan header and concede a corner.
Ancelotti made some changes around 70 minutes as he looked to level the scores. The Italian brought on Isco for Di María and Carvajal for Arbeloa, both of whom would make a big impact. Carvejal clipped a floating ball into the box minutes after coming on and it fell to exactly the man Real would have wanted: Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese, however, nodded his header wide and really should have done better.
Carvejal was again involved and this time his efforts lead to the equaliser. Carvejal was able to cut the ball into the box and you-know-who pinged it into the net, silencing the home crowd. This was Ronaldo’s 23rd La Liga goal of the season.
With the game into the final ten minutes, neither side was settling for a point with Barcelona to play Almeria later in the evening. Atlético almost made the most of some miscommunication between Lopez and his defence before Real almost saw the ball fall to Ronaldo right at the penalty spot, only for Luis to make a brilliant block as well as drawing a free kick.
In all honesty, Atlético were simply holding on once the match was into the three minutes of stoppage time. Real pressed and pressed, but were met by some top defending from a tired Atlético side who had pushed so hard all game.
The home side held on for a point, however, and having won the Bernabeu meeting 1-0, they hold the advantage over their city rivals should the two finish on the same number of points. In La Liga, it’s not the overall goal difference that separates sides, but the head-to-head record.
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