La Liga: Real Madrid 0 – 1 Atlético
Stellar performance by Atlético in superb Madrid derby
It had been 14 years since Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink led Atlético to their last victory over Real Madrid in league play.
On Saturday night, the teams returned to Santiago Bernabeú, and after years of suffering, a new striker stood up to lead his team to victory in Spain’s most important derby.
A strike by Diego Costa was enough to take three points, as Atlético continue their perfect start to a season in which they are yet to drop a point.
But perhaps even more satisfying than winning the game was the team’s performance in a match which easily could have seen Cholo Simeone’s men win by a three or four goal margin.
On the night that Atlético strengthened their claim of being the kings of Madrid, the Rojiblancos wasted an opportunity to humiliate their arch enemies with an even more embarrassing score.
In just the 11th minute, Atlético took the lead when Diego Costa capitalised on the first opportunity of the game. Filipe Luís took the ball from Ángel di María in Real’s half, and with a precise pass Koke launched Costa, who calmly slotted the ball past Diego López.
Of Diego Costa's last 17 goals, 11 of them assisted by Koke.
— David (@davidjaca) September 28, 2013
While Real enjoyed most of the possession, Atlético completely controlled the first half by defending as a unit, limiting space for the home team’s wingers and shutting down all passing lanes for Isco. Whenever the Colchoneros won the ball, they looked to break quickly, which led to a number of dangerous set pieces. Tiago, and later Diego Godín, missed incredible opportunities from corner kicks, the latter being denied by a superb save from López. At the other end, Real headed wide twice, courtesy of the disappointing Karim Benzema.
In the second half, Real Madrid’s high defensive line left a lot of space in behind for Diego Costa, who enjoyed one of his better games on a big stage. In the 52nd minute he was blocked by Pepe at the last moment, after he yet again linked up with Koke.
Some ten minutes later, Costa missed the biggest chance of the night to double our lead. A brilliant pass by David Villa put the Brazilian one-on-one with López, but a poor first touch let him down, and allowed the ‘keeper to save with his feet.
Record signing Gareth Bale made his home debut for Real, but he and his teammates were kept at bay, and only threatened Courtois with poor efforts from long range. Ancelotti’s side looked far more dangerous when the young Álvaro Morata was brought on. The former Atlético canterano caused some problems for Miranda, and he forced Thibaut Courtois to an excellent save to stop his spectacular volley.
A minute before that, Koke came within inches of deciding the game, but he hit the crossbar after another lethal counter attack by Atleti. In the rebound, Miranda saw his shot saved off the goalline by Pepe.
Atlético again hit the woodwork when Tiago Mendes hit the outside of the post with a curler from just outside the box.
In the final minute of regulation, everybody’s heart skipped a beat when a rare mixup in the heart of our defence created a huge opportunity for Morata to equalize and win an undeserved point for his team, but the youngster hit the side netting and kept the score at 1-0.
Life is good for Rojiblancos worldwide. Not only is the team sitting on top of the Liga table, they also have players leading the individual scoring (Costa, 8 goals) and assisting (Koke, 5 assists) statistical categories, even if all those leaderboards are still being shared with Barcelona. But we can also claim to have beaten our biggest rivals twice in 2013, and will continue to do so with Diego Simeone at the helm.
|Diego Costa 11'|
|28 September 2013|
|Di María (46')|
|Arda Turan (88')|
|Diego Costa (85')|
|Léo Baptistão (85')|
|Raúl García (87')|
|Cristian Rodríguez (88')|