Antoine Griezmann cancelled out Cristiano Ronaldo's strike as Real and Atletico shared the spoils (1-1) at the Santiago Bernabeu. The result boosted league leader Barcelona, which defeated Leganes 3-1 on Saturday with a hat trick by Lionel Messi. Barcelona has an 11-point lead over Atletico at the top of the standings with seven matches left.
Real went into the clash four points adrift of their city rivals in second but could have closed the gap to one with a victory. They were well on top in the first half as Jan Oblak made a fine save to deny Ronaldo before Marcelo hit the bar.
Ronaldo did find the net after the break as the clash exploded into life. But just four minutes later, Griezmann capitalised on a loose ball to slam Atletico level. Real almost stole all three points late on but Oblak kept out Sergio Ramos' free-kick with a stunning save.
Real coach Zinedine Zidane, with one eye on the Champions League quarter-final second leg against Juventus on Wednesday, started with Luka Modric and Karim Benzema on the bench, the latter coming on to spare Ronaldo the final half an hour.
Real had several openings around the penalty area but a combination of poor finishing and strong blocks, from Oblak in particular, kept them at bay. Toni Kroos was denied what looked like a penalty after he was tripped in the box. Marcelo came closer to the opener four minutes from half-time, dancing inside Vitolo to thud a 20-yard strike against the crossbar.
The opening goal arrived after nine uneventful second-half minutes from a familiar source. Bale had operated on the margins of the contest up until that point but the Wales winger stormed down the left flank and Ronaldo pulled into space behind Lucas Hernandez, drilling a volley into the turf and beyond Oblak.
Atletico's response was stunning and, after Navas pawed a speculative Saul Niguez shot to safety, they ensured Madrid's lead was short-lived. Thomas Partey played in Griezmann, who cleverly slid possession to Vitolo and was on hand to steer the loose ball into a vacant goal after Navas saved at the former Sevilla winger's feet.
Now, Real and Atletico can now focus on Champions and Europa League, respectively. That's where both are going to give everything because it's the only thing left to save the season because the League has long since been their war, especially that of Real Madrid. The derby is already history and now it is time to think about Europe and wait for next season so that another one arrives.
About the Author
Jeet Ghosh is a Football Journalist, living and working in Kolkata with 7 years of experience. He has also worked with Sportzwiki and India.com. Jeet is a sports lover but has special liking for football. He follows the football league’s around the world and is somewhat partial towards Real Madrid.