Atletico’s second straight win over Real Madrid has struck the first major blow in Spain’s race, with goals from Tiago and Arda Tura giving La Liga’s defending champions a 2-1 win at the Santiago Bernabeu. On the back of last month’s win in the Spanish Supercopa’s second leg, today’s result gives Atleti two wins in a row over their rivals, with Diego Simeone’s team having now won two straight league matches at the Bernabeu.
The visitors broke through early off a 10th minute corner, with an in-swinger from Koke finding Tiago at the near post. El Real responded mid-way through the period with Cristiano Ronaldo converted from the spot, but with 14 minutes to play, Real Madrid’s defense was caught flatfooted when play from an Atletico throw-in resulted in Arda Turan’s game-winning goal.
The victory, of particular value in Spain’s title race, leaves Atletico with seven points through three rounds, two behind league-leading Barcelona, who defeated Athletic Bilbao earlier on Saturday. For Real Madrid, it was the team’s second loss of the season, having already dropped points at Real Sociedad.
Atletico boss Diego Simeone took in the match from the stands, still serving the suspension he incurred during the teams’ last meeting. Much like that Supercopa match at the Vicente Calderon, Atleti struck first, with an early corner allowing an unsuspecting target to score from close range.
That man was Tiago, who seemed well marked among a maelstrom of bodies at Iker Casillas’s near post. Yet when Koke swung his restart in from the left, the veteran midfielder’s head was first to the ball, putting a sharp redirection onto Atletico’s early opener.
The goal loomed large given what happened in the Supercopa, where a second minute opener from Mario Mandzukic delivered the season’s first trophy to Atleti. On Saturday, however, Real Madrid proved more successful in its response, with their expected dominance of the ball forcing Miguel Angel Moya to be decisive multiple times in Atletico’s goal.
In the 26th minute, however, there was little the team’s new number one could do to prevent the equalizer. After a Guillherme Siqueira foul in the right of the box gave El Real a chance from the spot, Cristiano Ronaldo buried theconversion, giving the home side the equalizer it could never find at the Calderon.
The next 50 minutes assumed the posture we’ve come to expect from these two rivals, with the wealth of talent at Real Madrid’s disposal neutralized by the organization and aggression Atletico Madrid showed in its final third. Though the visitors saw few opportunities to get forward, the threat loomed large, with Simeone’s team having well-established its ability to craft a back-breaking moment.
In the 76th minute, that moment finally arrived, with Atletico’s execution off a deep throw-in leaving El Real with the look of a team caught off guard. When the ball was put back in play, Antoine Griezmann fed right back Juanfran behind the defense, where a cross was rolled toward the penalty spot. A Real Madrid defense standing stiff near its the six-yard box was frozen as a dummied shot from Raul Garcia left the ball for Arda Turan, who hooked his shot just inside the left post.
Fifteen minutes of El Real pressure failed to produce an equalizer, with a late chance for Griezmann coming closest to the days forth goal. At the whistle, Atletico had reaffirmed its claim to being La Liga’s best, while the Merengues were relegated to their worst start in nine years.