La Liga: Real Madrid suffer crippling title blow as Griezmann-inspired Atletico win derby
Real Madrid suffered a devastating blow to their slim title chances as they fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat by Atletico Madrid in a relatively calm Madrid derby. Antoine Griezmann broke his scoring drought early in the second half to give Atletico the lead, and the Rojiblancos put in a great defensive display to win the game.
Real Madrid XI: Navas, Danilo, Ramos, Varane, Carvajal, Modric, Kroos, Isco, Rodriguez, Ronaldo, Benzema
Atletico Madrid XI: Oblak, Juanfran, Godin, Gimenez, Filipe Luis, Gabi, Saul, Augusto, Koke, Griezmann, Torres
Both managers expressed their displeasure at the scheduling of the game before kickoff, and given the manner in which the sides started the Madrid derby, it seemed the sentiment had spread to the players. The opening 15 minutes had nothing of note except for a mistake from Keylor Navas that nearly allowed Atletico to profit.
Varane had Real’s first chance in the 17th minute, as he headed narrowly over the bar from Kroos’s free-kick. The quiet nature of the game continued as the half wore on, with Cristiano Ronaldo having his thunderbolt of a free kick parried away by Oblak in the 32nd minute.
Antoine Griezmann, who had been quiet for the duration of the game announced himself in the 40th minute, as the Frenchman stung Navas’s palms with a stunning effort from range that nearly caught out the Costa Rican, as the first half ended with the game scoreless.
Karim Benzema was taken off at half-time, as he was replaced by youngster Borja Mayoral after suffering an injury. Cristiano Ronaldo had a great chance to lighten the mood as he found himself in space on the right edge of the box, but when it looked all but certain that he would score, the Portugues striker dragged his shot narrowly wide.
Ronaldo was made to regret his miss soon, as Antoine Griezmann scored the opener for Atletico Madrid in the 53rd minute. The Frenchman found an onrushing Filipe Luis in acres of space down the left, and as the Madrid defence was drawn towards him, the left-back cut the ball back for Griezmann in space, who slot the ball home at the near post from 10 yards out.
Keylor Navas made a great save from Saul in the 66th minute to keep Real in the game, as the Costa Rican charged down his shot in the box. Ronaldo missed a great chance to equalize in the 68th minute from a free header in the box, as the Portuguese star headed straight at Oblak after a great cross from Carvajal.
Atletico held off Real for the remainder of the second half with aplomb, as their defence were compact, as they prevented Real from making clear chances. However, the visitors nearly undid all their great work in the 88th minute, as Danilo was allowed space in the box, but his shot went narrowly wide as Diego Simeone reacted furiously on the touchline.
As the final whistle blew, the Bernabeu whistled in disapproval, as Real are surely out of the title race as they are now 9 points behind leaders Barcelona, having played a game more, while Atletico are 4 points ahead of their rivals in 2nd place.