Real Madrid take derby honors as Atletico lose unbeaten marathon record

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Madrid (AFP)

Real Madrid reignited their La Liga title push on Saturday by beating leaders Atletico 2-0 as their city rivals suffered a first loss of the season in the league.

Real, who saved their Champions League campaign in midweek by making the last 16, moved to third place in the table, three points behind Atletico.

It was a disappointing night for Diego Simeone’s side who had boasted of a 26-game unbeaten streak in the league, dating back to February.

It was a race that consisted of 17 wins and 9 draws. Real were the last team to beat Atletico in the league.

Zinedine Zidane’s side were in the lead after 15 minutes as Casemiro returned home to a Toni Kroos corner.

It was the reward for the early pressure from Real who had seen Karim Benzema refused by a good save from Jan Oblak a few moments earlier.

Atletico, who also played in the Champions League midweek knockout round, struggled to make an impression and star striker Luis Suarez was an anonymous figure up front.

Real were leading 2-0 after 63 minutes with Kroos again the supplier.

His pass eventually fell for Dani Carvajal who unleashed a 30-yard drive that hit the post but was deflected into the net by the helpless Oblak.

The goalkeeper was credited with an own goal for his troubles.

It was only the fourth goal conceded by the usually tight Atletico defense in 11 league games this season.

It was a night of frustration with Simeone’s men hitting just one shot on target.

The egos were also bruised.

Portuguese star Joao Felix has shown his displeasure at being replaced by Saul on time.

Suarez allowed himself a wry smile as he too was benched in favor of Geoffrey Kondogbia in the 73rd minute.

In stark contrast, Zidane could be especially happy for Casemiro who had returned from quarantine from Covid-19 while Carvajal had recovered from a right leg injury.

It was a memorable evening also for captain Sergio Ramos who played in a Madrid derby for the 43rd time,

Atletico, meanwhile, could lose first place on Sunday when second-placed Real Sociedad host Eibar.

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