In-form forwards Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann were both on the scoresheet as the spoils were shared in a Madrid derbi that saw both teams have at least half an eye elsewhere.
It was billed pre-game as a “decaf-derbi” due to Barcelona’s dominance of the title race, with even Atletico president Enrique Cerezo admitting that neither his team nor Real had a chance to catch the leaders.
But the morbo rivalry started early with cheers for Atletico right-back Juanfran Torres that recalled his missed penalty in the 2016 Champions League final shootout. And there was a feisty nature to the early stages, with early yellow cards on either side for Toni Kroos and Vitolo.
That it was still scoreless at half-time was mostly due to goalkeepers Jan Oblak and Keylor Navas, though the woodwork also played a role with the home team’s Marcelo and Marco Asensio hitting the crossbar. Meanwhile, the officials missed a penalty following a foul on Toni Kroos by Juanfran and twice called back clean-through Atletico forwards due to mistaken offside calls.
Goals were coming, though, and eight minutes into the second half Ronaldo’s right-foot volley – though not as spectacular as that which he managed vs. Juventus in midweek — expertly guided home Gareth Bale’s cross. Atletico reacted well, however, and within four minutes Griezmann finished smartly after the home defence had been too easily cut open.
Navas then made a smart stop from Koke as Atletico tried to maintain momentum, while another counter-attack saw Saul slide an effort just wide from 20 yards. At the other end, Bale headed wide from near the penalty spot and Sergio Ramos’ late free kick brought an excellent stop from Oblak. Madrid’s captain headed the resulting corner just over.
One point apiece was fair for two teams whose focus is on Europa competition. It also means Barca are even closer to being crowned 2017-18 champions.
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