Diego Costa’s first half strike sealed Atletico Madrid’s first La Liga victory over rivals Real Madrid since 1999 in a 1-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Atletico came into the game after winning their first six league games of the season and the victory over their neighbours sends a big message to their title rivals.
Gareth Bale came on to make his home debut for Real, but it was Costa’s 11th minute strike that dealt Carlo Ancelotti’s side a disappointing defeat.
There was a tense atmosphere inside the stadium at kick-off as both sets of supporters awaited a fixture that always guarantees drama. The nerves seemed to go through the Real team too as they gave the ball away a lot in the opening stages and one of the mistakes led to the goal that eventually gave Atletico all three points.
Angel Di Maria was the guilt party as he gave the ball away to Koke in a good position for Atletico and the midfielder slipped in Costa to finish with great accuracy from ten yards out. It was a well-taken goal for the Brazilian-born striker and the pressure was on the home side to react.
The Argentine, Di Maria, was the man who was pushing Real forward and two brilliant in-swinging crosses made two good chances for the head of Karim Benzema. After his glancing header was well saved by Thibaut Courtois, the France forward should have hit the target with a free header from six yards out, but he nodded wide. It was a great opportunity in a game where Real failed to consistently trouble the Atletico defence.
The first half seemed to hinge on missed headed opportunities as Atletico could have been 2-0 up at the break. Tiago escaped any marking from Koke’s corner in the 29th minute, but the former Chelsea midfielder sent his effort over from just five yards when he really should have scored. It would have been a two-goal advantage that Atletico deserved, but they also found that Diego Lopez was in top form with three minutes until half-time.
The goalkeeper made a tremendous first save to keep out Gabi’s powerful header and when the rebound fell to Costa from six yards, everyone expected Real to fall 2-0 behind but Lopez made an amazing block to keep the shot out and push the ball away to safety.
The second half brought more from the battle between Costa and Lopez, but the goalkeeper won their third tussle. Costa broke free from the Real defence with a great run and it was met by Gabi’s terrific pass, but the striker couldn’t beat Lopez from 15 yards with a powerful strike as the goalkeeper did well to push the ball around the post.
Ancelotti introduced Bale with half an hour to go with the hope that the Welshman could change the game on his first appearance at the Bernabeu. The summer signing from Tottenham did force Courtois into a good save with a low drilled effort, but Real still lacked a spark while Atletico looked like the hungrier of the two teams.
The away side were the much better side throughout the game and were unlucky not to double their lead in the 81st minute when they were denied by the frame of the goal. Koke did well to drop his shoulder and come inside onto his left foot, but his curling effort thumped back off the crossbar with Lopez beaten. It was a brilliant strike and it was desperately unfortunate not to go in.
Ancelotti threw on the youngster Alvaro Morata in the search of a late equaliser and the Spanish striker put in an impressive cameo despite the defeat. It was his late scissor kick that proved to be Real’s last good opportunity, but Courtois’ good low save meant Atletico could hold on to an important three points.
Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)