MADRID: Real Madrid showed why they are Liga champions with a convincing 2-0 home win over Atletico Madrid in the derby to end the pacesetters’ unbeaten start to the league season.
Real deservedly took the lead in the 15th minute when Casemiro headed home from a corner, leaving Atletico behind for the first time in their 11th league game of the season.
Dani Carvajal put Zinedine Zidane’s Real side further at ease with a stunning strike in the 63rd minute which came off the post and into the net off keeper Jan Oblak for an own goal.
Atletico still lead the standings on 26 points, while Real climbed to third and closed the gap on their city rivals to three points, although Diego Simeone’s side have a game in hand.
The result also means second-placed Real Sociedad can reclaim top spot if they beat Eibar on Sunday.
Atletico were utterly outplayed by champions Real and did not have any attempts on goal in the first half, while they failed to even manage a shot on target until the 80th minute, when Saul Niguez’s header was saved by Thibaut Courtois.
“We went all out to win the game from the start, we drowned them in their own half,” said Carvajal.
Atletico captain Koke added: “They played much better than us, they were more intense and we were not ourselves in the first half.
“We took a step forward in the second half and had a great chance to score but football is all about the little details.
“Now we need to move on, it’s a long season and we need to stay near the top of the season.”
The win completed a remarkable week for Real after beating Sevilla in La Liga and Borussia Moenchengladbach to reach the Champions League last 16 and will further ease the pressure on Zidane after his side’s relatively poor start to the campaign.
“We were facing a very difficult week but have picked up nine points from nine,” added Carvajal.
“It’s difficult to explain why we seem to really come into our own in the biggest matches, but it’s been a strange season.
“We’ve had lots of injuries but the more games we play the better we’ll get.”
The home side were boosted by the return of first-choice right back Carvajal but Zidane also rewarded Lucas Vazquez for his outstanding efforts in deputising for the defender and deployed him as a right winger.
The move gave Real extra intensity and work rate and Atletico could barely cope with their whirlwind start, as Karim Benzema forced Oblak to tip a stinging shot onto the post and moments latter narrowly failed to connect with a cross.
The hosts continued to dominate the first half and Simeone sprung a triple change at the interval in a bid to give his side some control of a match that was slipping from their grasp.
The move almost bore fruit as substitute Thomas Lemar ghosted in unmarked at the far post from close range to meet a cross but somehow hit the side-netting, Simeone howling in disbelief on the sidelines at a glorious chance gone to waste.
Carvajal then delivered an emphatic counter punch to put the game out of Atletico’s reach and although the visitors reacted well they never looked like staging a comeback.