For the fifth time in our last six visits to the Santiago Bernabeú, Atlético took the lead against Real Madrid.
But a red card and penalty made an end to our strong start, as Atleti continue their 12-year drought in the Derbi Madrileño.
Gregorio Manzano started with a flat four man midfield, with Diego slightly ahead and Adrián up top. The coach chose to start with Diego Godín, Paulo Assunção and Salvio rather than Miranda, Mario and Reyes.
Atlético started off strongly and dominated the opening period.
Toto Salvio dribbled past three opponents, but unfortunately his final pass was lacking. From the ensuing corner kick it was Adrián who scored the opening goal after a brilliant run.
After the corner the striker picked up the ball outside the area and interchanged passes with Gabi, before beating his marker and setting up a one-two with Diego. Adrián received the return pass and put it past Casillas.
Real Madrid played at a low pace and hadn’t threatened Thibaut Courtois a single time until the match took a drastic change in the 22nd minute. Di María sliced open our defence and found Benzema, who was brought down inside the area by Courtois.
The referee could do nothing but send off the Belgian ‘keeper and award the home side a penalty, which was converted by Cristiano Ronaldo.
Despite their rivals going a man down, Real still failed to create opportunities, or it must have been a shot by Ronaldo from distance which went wide.
Manzano had said in the pre-match presser that his players would be tough and motivated to the bone. Our aggression helped us in the first period of the game, but later resulted in several bookings.
The players that lined up today showed true character, but Goyo’s decision to take off Diego for substitute goalkeeper Asenjo left Atleti unable to keep hold of the ball.
In the added time of the first half Benzema had a chance to score, but Domínguez did well to block his attempt and a shot from the ensuing cornerkick was saved by Sergio Asenjo.
Atlético had managed to keep the score tied until half time, but after the break Real quickly took the lead.
Ronaldo was launched on the left side and outpaced Diego Godín. The Portuguese pulled the ball back and allowed Ángel di María to make it 2-1.
Real Madrid didn’t put in a convincing performance, but they controlled the game and were gifted a third goal after naive defending by Diego Godín.
The Uruguayan should have made a clearance, but instead waited too long and allowed Higuaín to take the ball. The Argentine striker had been brought on some minutes earlier and unwrapped the early Christmas present by rounding Asenjo and putting the ball in the empty goal.
The home side hardly created opportunities, but they were deadly prolific with the few chances they were given. In the 82nd minute Higuaín was brought down from behind by Diego Godín.
Referee Mateu Lahoz awarded another penalty and sent off the Uruguayan defender, leaving Atleti with 9 men. Ronaldo scored a second time from the spot kick to score his 16th goal of the campaign.
Atlético played a strong first half, but were unable to cope after they were reduced to ten men. Despite conceding few chances the team went down after two penalties and a gift from Godín.
Line-up: Courtois (“23 Asenjo); Perea, Godín, Domínguez, Filipe; Salvio (“83 Miranda), Assunção, Gabi, Arda (“78 Reyes), Diego; and Adrián.
Goals: 0-1 Adrián (“15); 1-1 Ronaldo (p.k.)(“24); 2-1 Di María (“48); 3-1 Higuaín (“65); 4-1 Ronaldo (p.k.)(“82)