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Real Madrid close in on title, beat Atletico

Real Madrid picked up a convincing 2-0 victory over Atletico Madrid and stretched their unbeaten Madrid derby run to eight matches, their last defeat coming in a 4-2 disappointment in the UEFA Super Cup in 2019.

The victory was more significant than claiming El Derbi bragging rights, however, as Madrid opened an eight point lead at the top and have seemingly decided the La Liga title race in December.

Diego Simeone’s men entered the fray ten points behind their neighbours and were hoping to nick an away win that would cut the deficit to seven points only.

Atletico started on the front foot as Thibaut Courtois had to spring into action to snatch a Marcos Llorente cross and prevent it from reaching Matheus Cunha, who was ready to pounce from an unmarked position.

But, Atletico began to fade out of the match beyond that point as the hosts grew in confidence.

Koke errors prove costly

Koke carelessly lost possession in the midfield twice in quick succession to expose his team to two menacing Madrid attacks.

The 29-year-old got away with the first one, but the second mistake proved costly as Vinicius Jr. and Karim Benzema combined to break the deadlock.

Marco Asensio found Vinicius in space and the Brazilian took full advantage of his compatriot Felipe’s hesitancy to commit to a challenge and send an inviting cross inside the Atletico box.

The Roji Blancos had seven men inside the box, but Benzema managed to avoid the bodies and connect to the cross perfectly.

The resulting volley was too powerful for Jan Oblak to intervene.

Koke made a chance to make amends ten minutes later, but he failed to launch a powerful shot to trouble Courtois at the Madrid goal.

Atletico desperately tried to up the tempo, but they did not manage to test Courtois before Antoine Griezmann made the Belgian stretch to keep out a goal-bound free-kick. 

Both Carlo Ancelotti and Diego Simeone made changes in the second half, but for different reasons.

Joao Felix makes an impression

Ancelotti took Benzema off because he was yet to fully regain his fitness following a hamstring injury.

Simeone, on the other hand, threw Thomas Lemar and Joao Felix into the mix to add more attacking threats.

The duo had an immediate impact as they engineered a nifty move into the Madrid box, but Courtois stopped Felix’s shot.

The Portuguese established himself at the heart of Atletico attacks as he played in Cunha and Lemar in subsequent minutes.

Atletico regained the confidence they had shown early in the first half and pinned the hosts to their own half.

But a fantastic Real Madrid counter-attack threw a spanner in the works for Atletico.

Luka Jovic received a long ball from the Madrid backline, sent it to Vinicius’s path, and the forward picked up his second assist of the night as he fed Asensio for the second Madrid goal.

There was still enough time left to mount a comeback, but Real Madrid managed the game well to keep the scoreline unchanged.

Felix caused a few more scares, and Lemar came close to pulling one back in the 75th minute, but that was just about it.

Vinicius could have gotten a goal for himself and extended Madrid’s lead, but he could not meet Ferland Mendy’s fantastic cross.

Atletico Madrid’s hopes of defending their title appear bleak as they have fallen thirteen points adrift of the top spot with the season half gone.

They have a match in hand, but still, overcoming that gap would be an uphill battle.

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