Barcelona’s failure to defeat Malaga meant that Atletico Madrid had the chance to gain some serious ground on the the Catalan club and indeed their opponents tonight. Their bitter rivals Real Madrid would also be looking to take advantage of Barca’s slip-up and extend their lead at the top of La Liga.
Atleti are undefeated in nine domestic games against the Galacticos and if they wanted to stay in the title race, that record would surely have to be extended tonight against a Los Blancos team at the peak of their powers.
It was a high tempo start to this derby and the young Spaniard Saul had the first chance of the game. The Atletico Madrid winger made a run from deep and after being found by Koke, acrobatically volleyed the ball wide.
But Real Madrid soon created a chance of their own. Isco found Marcelo after some lovely skill and the Brazilian provided a perfect cross for Ronaldo whose bullet header was saved tremendously by Jan Oblak.
Real Madrid’s efforts did not go unrewarded and after 22 minutes, they took the lead. Ronaldo found himself standing over yet another free kick 25 yards out and after he struck the ball, it took a heavy deflection that wrong-footed Oblak and found the net.
At the interval, a brilliant Real Madrid team were good value for their 1-0 advantage and Diego Simeone had much to ponder after his side ghosted through the first half.
The Rojiblancos started the second half well and after Lucas Vazquez gifted Carrasco the ball on the edge of the box, the Belgian whipped a curling effort towards goal that narrowly whistled past the far post.
Atleti had been in the ascendancy but after Marcelo’s cross was cleared, Isco struck a sweet volley that seemed destined for the corner if not for the flying palm of Oblak.
Real Madrid had the chance to gain a comfortable lead in this game after Savic misjudged the flight of the ball and brought down Ronaldo inside the box to concede a penalty. With 70 minutes on the clock, Ronaldo took the spot kick and sent the keeper the wrong way to double his and Zidane’s side’s advantage.
The Galacticos were in dreamland after 77 minutes when Ronaldo scored his, and Real’s third. Gareth Bale used his blistering pace to accelerate away from Juanfran and he played the ball across goal for Ronaldo who passed the ball into an unguarded Atletico net to complete his hat trick.
This superb win sees Real Madrid extend their lead at the top of La Liga to four points, whilst Atletico remain in fifth, nine points behind their city rivals.