Arda Turan came off the bench to score the winning goal as Atletico Madrid edged out Real Madrid 2-1 to go second in La Liga at Santiago Bernabeu.
The Turk made his return on the hour-mark from the injury that he sustained at the back end of last season, and marked his introduction in style with a neat finish to seal a second consecutive league victory on their rivals’ home turf.
Tiago Mendes had opened the scoring for the visitors, who took just 50 supporters with them for the 205th Madrid derby, before Cristiano Ronaldo scored on his comeback from the penalty spot. But Turan popped up 14 minutes from time as Diego Simeone’s men matched the scoreline of the Supercopa de Espana aggregate victory last month.
Ronaldo was one of three changes made by Carlo Ancelotti from the collapse at Real Sociedad as he came in for Isco, while there were two changes at full-back with Fabio Coentrao and Alvaro Arbeloa replacing Marcelo and Dani Carvajal.
Simeone watches from stands
Simeone watched on from the stands as he completed his touchline ban in La Liga, and just two changes from his side’s narrow win over newly-promoted Eibar saw Tiago and Raul Jimenez come in for Mario Suarez and Antoine Griezmann.
His decision was justified 10 minutes in, as the Portuguese midfielder stole a yard on Karim Benzema at the near post to head home Koke’s corner.
This sparked life into Real with Gareth Bale’s free-kick drawing a good save out of Miguel Angel Moya, before they were awarded a penalty on 25 minutes as Ronaldo was tripped in the area by Guilherme Siqueira. The Balon D’Or holder needed no second invitation as he coolly sent the keeper the wrong way to equalise.
Benzema then wasted a guilt-edge chance to give the hosts the lead as he found himself in acres of space in the middle of the penalty area, but his first touch from Ronaldo’s square ball was poor and the opportunity evaded him as Moya gathered. The keeper produced sharp reflexes again soon after as he pushed away the Frenchman’s goal-bound header at the far post.
Turan makes impact
Turan was brought on in place of skipper Gabi with half an hour remaining for his first appearance since the title decider at the Nou Camp back in May. He almost made an immediate impact with his first involvement, as he cut inside from the corner of the penalty area but fired narrowly wide of the far post.
He made amends though three minutes later. Juanfran got some space down the right-hand side and Raul Garcia had space in the area to dummy the cross, before Turan swept the ball beautifully into the far corner beyond the reach of Iker Casillas.
Things almost got even better for Atletico in the final minutes, as substitute Griezmann sprinted away from Pepe on the counter-attack but could only find the side-netting from a tight angle.
Yet another huge victory for Atletico, if anyone doubted their ability to mount a successful defence of their title then they will have had a rethink after that performance. Real’s problems continue though - it is a second straight defeat for Real in just three games after their loss at Sociedad a fortnight ago. Questions will be asked of their title credentials with them already four points behind Atletico and six from Barcelona.