Real Madrid leapfrogged 10-man Atletico Madrid into second place in La Liga thanks to a 3-1 victory at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday.
Real took the lead on 15 minutes thanks to Casemiro’s opener but parity did not last long as Antoine Griezmann levelled things up 10 minutes later. Sergio Ramos then put the visitors back in front two minutes before the break after converting from the penalty spot. And substitute Gareth Bale rounded things off 16 minutes from time before Thomas Partey was dismissed for picking up two bookings.
“It was a tough hard game in which they were better than us, more forceful, that is why they won,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “They played a very good game and we congratulate them.”
Real captain Ramos said: “La Liga is there to fight for, there are a lot of points to win and any team can make your life hard.
“Winning the league motivates us, it’s a really balanced competition and we have to keep fighting for it and making life difficult for Barcelona.”
Alvaro Morata, facing his former club, thought he had equalised in the second half but after he lobbed Thibaut Courtois, VAR ruled the former Chelsea striker offside. And once Bale finished off after good work from Luka Modric, it was game over.
The VAR officials were busy throughout, checking both the Griezmann goal and Ramos penalty, and Simeone added: “I do not usually talk about the VAR.
“It will clearly improve for the good of everyone. I’ve not seen the replays. VAR is not why we lost today. The penalty incident is important in a game, it’s true, but we are used to VAR now. We know you can celebrate a goal and then it does not count.”
In a typically frantic opening, Atletico had a lot of the ball to begin with while the home fans whistled Courtois mercilessly, even launching toy rats in his direction in reaction to his decision to join Atleti’s bitter rivals last summer.
But Courtois and Real were smiling early on thanks to Casemiro’s opener, an acrobatic finish from the Brazil midfielder after Atletico failed to clear their lines. Griezmann got the hosts back on track, though, after latching on to Angel Correa’s pass to slot past Courtois. After a delay to check via VAR if the goal should have stood, it was ruled that there was no foul by Correa on Vinicius Jr.
Vinicius then stormed past Jose Gimenez just before the break and after another VAR intervention, a penalty was given that Ramos converted for his 11th of the season — the best scoring season of his career.
Atleti were quick out the blocks in the second half and on 53 minutes, Morata had the ball in the net with a superbly taken finish over Courtois. VAR came to Real’s rescue, though, declaring Morata offside.
Atletico pushed for a way back into the match for a second time and Morata went down in the box, but appeals for a penalty were turned down before Bale made the game safe and Partey saw red.
Asked why Bale headed straight to the dressing room on full time when his teammates were still celebrating on the pitch, Solari praised the impact the impact made by a player still returning from his latest muscle injury.
“[Bale] was very happy going to the dressing-room, and happy with his goal,” he said. “The game was alive, and then Gareth killed it. Every day he is feeling better.”
Real Madrid moved up to second with the victory, five points behind leaders Barcelona ahead of their clash with Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.