It was a night to forget for Atlético Madrid fans on Saturday, as Real Madrid ran out handsome 3-0 winners in the last ever league meeting between the two rivals at the Vicente Calderón.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick to compound the home side’s misery, opening up a nine point gap between the league leaders and Diego Simeone’s men in the race for the title.
Despite the fact there is still uncertainty as to whether Atleti really will move into their new Peineta stadium next summer, all of the pre-match talk was about the occasion and giving the Calderón a rousing send off in it’s last ever league derby.
Real Madrid lined up without Ramos, Benzema, Kroos, Casemiro and Pepe, and the fans were in buoyant mood as they prepared to roar the team onto what they hoped would be a famous win.
Simeone had warned against letting emotion get the better of the team heading into the match, but with Antoine Griezmann ruled fit after an injury scare, it was hard not to get carried away.
However, the visitors obviously hadn’t read the script and took control from the off, dominating the early exchanges and stifling the wall of noise inside the stadium.
Cristiano Ronaldo thought he had opened the scoring after 12 minutes, protesting that his headed attempt had crossed the line before being well saved by Jan Oblak.
Referee Fernández Borbalán correctly waved away his protests, but the Portuguese wouldn’t be kept at bay for long and claimed a rather fortuitous opening goal ten minutes later.
After a poor challenge from Stefan Savic on Lucas on the edge of the box, Ronaldo stepped up and sent the ensuing free-kick past the despairing Jan Oblak via a deflection off of Raphaël Varane.
Little could be done to prevent the goal, but Atleti didn’t respond to the wake up call and failed to really create anything of note throughout the rest of the half.
Madrid’s makeshift defensive pairing were doing a good job of containing the front three – who just a few weeks ago were taking on all comers – as the team failed to match the intensity coming from the crowd.
After the break, and most likely a stern half-time talking to, Simeone’s men did manage a brief period of sustained pressure, but couldn’t make any of their chances count and also looked susceptible on the break.
Carrasco and Griezmann tried their luck, but Madrid remained resilient and soon found the crucial second goal, Ronaldo this time outfoxing Savic and winning a penalty after being clumsily upended by the Montenegrin.
As expected, the former Manchester United man stepped up and sent Jan Oblak the wrong way for 2-0, and tapped home the third on the break shortly after to complete his hat-trick.
Ever popular with the Atleti faithful, Ronaldo celebrated in typically brash style in front of the Fondo Sur, who by that point were probably more angered by their team’s limp performance than the 32 year-old’s histrionics.
Only Yannick Carrasco can really come out of the game with any credit, and even at 3-0 he continued to look for a consolation goal and forced Keylor Navas into action on a few occasions.
Still, Madrid never looked like conceding and held on to mark the Calderón’s last ever league derby with the type of result that will give Atleti fans nightmares of the pre-Simeone era.
Now nine points behind Zidane’s side, the focus now has to be regaining form and sorting out problems in midfield and defence before even thinking of challenging for silverware.
On recent evidence, there is a lot of work to be done if this farewell season is to be a memorable one.
Player ratings: Oblak 5, Juanfran 4, Godín 4, Savic 4, Filipe 5, Gabi 5, Koke 5, Saúl 4, Carrasco 7, Griezmann 5, Torres 4. Subs: Correa 5, Gameiro 5.