Atlético are still waiting for their first win over Real Madrid this century, after losing a hard-fought game 2-1 at the Vicente Calderón on Saturday evening.
Two first half goals from Benzema and Özil set Real on their way to their fourth win over Atleti this season and, despite a late Agüero goal four minutes from the end, los Blancos picked up all three points on a tense night in Madrid.
Los Blancos started brightly, and kept the ball well in the opening minutes. Ronaldo had an early opportunity after he was hacked down in midfield by Mario Suarez. From thirty-five yards, all the most expensive player in the world could do was sting the hands of our young goalkeeper. And just a couple of minutes later De Gea was called into action again, making a great save from Sami Khedira.
Real almost took the lead inside the first ten minutes. Lassana Diarra burst into the Atlético penalty area and could have gone down after a tough challenge from Domínguez. He decided to stay on his feet and pull the ball back for Ronaldo, but the pass was overhit and came to nothing.
It didn’t stay goalless for long though, and in the 11th minute Benzema added another goal to his tally this season for the fifth match in a row. A cute little flick with the outside of the boot from Khedira cut out both Godín and Domínguez and the ball stopped perfectly at Benzema’s feet. His first touch knocked the ball into space before he chipped it over De Gea and made it 1-0 to the visitors.
Atlético came right back at their cross-town rivals, and Reyes tested Casillas with a free kick from out wide. The Spanish number one got his hands behind it and tipped it over the crossbar. Atleti continued to threaten the Real goalkeeper, and Agüero was the next player to force a brilliant save from the Spaniard. In space on the edge of the area, Agüero, unmarked, knocked the ball into space and hit a low shot at Casillas who got down to meet it.
Agüero had another shot saved by Casillas, before Reyes tested his countryman with a stinging shot after he got in behind the Real Madrid defence.
Despite the pressure being exerted on the visitors’ defence, it was the away side that scored next. A low first-time cross to Ronaldo looked destined to end up in the back of the net, but Ujfalusi brought the former-Manchester United player to the ground. It should have been a penalty (and then a red card) but the referee waved play on. Marcelo raced to pick up the ball on the left flank and cut it back to Özil who hit it hard from the edge of the area. De Gea managed to get a hand to the ball but could only direct it into the roof of the net and give Real Madrid a 2-0 lead.
Atlético didn’t lie down though, and had chance after chance to get a goal back. Agüero had a shout for a penalty turned down after a kick from Sergio Ramos, but the referee booked Kun for diving. After looking at the replays, there was contact, but not enough to bring our young forward down.
Casillas was easily Madrid’s man of the match tonight though, and he kept Atleti at bay until half-time.
Suspect defending had let Atleti down in the first half, but they performed much better in the second. Atlético’s attack showed no signs of struggling either, but it was again the heroics of Iker Casillas that kept los Colchoneros from getting a goal back. After being put through brilliantly, Kun was racing towards goal but Casillas read the situation perfectly and made another top save.
Koke had an opportunity to get a goal back shortly before, but you-know-who made another great save to deny a spectacular half-volley from the youngster.
Atlético definitely didn’t get the rub of the green tonight, and were absolutely luckless at points. Brilliant going forward but lacking the clinical edge. Real Madrid were more than happy to sit back and absorb the Atleti pressure before trying to launch attacks of their own on the counter. Ronaldo should have made it 3-0 after a cross from Özil, but all he could do was head it over the bar. Again Real Madrid’s number 7 could have extended their lead, and after a great one-two with Benzema in the Atleti area, could only find the side-netting.
Atleti were to get the goal they had been working so hard for, but it came far too late. In the 86th minute, Agüero played a brilliant one-two with the youngster Koke and then finally managed to beat Casillas, slotting it into the far corner. The Calderón burst into life and the next five minutes were frantic, but Atleti never really threatened. A tame header from Diego Godín in stoppage time after a great cross from Filipe was collected easily by Casillas.
And so Atlético Madrid go another season without beating their eternal rivals, despite a very good attacking performance. However, lacklustre defending in the first fifteen minutes cost them early on, and los Rojiblancos left it far too late to mount a serious comeback.
Line-up: De Gea; Ujfalusi, Domínguez, Godín, Filipe; Reyes, Mario, Tiago (“86 Juanfran), Elias (“45 Koke); Forlán (“78 Costa) and Agüero.
Goals: 0-1 Benzema (“11); 0-2 Özil (“32); 1-2 Agüero (“86)