Real Madrid battled through to a deserved 3-1 victory in Saturday afternoon’s derby at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano, with the three points sending them ahead of their neighbours into second place in the La Liga table.
Santi Solari’s side showed good character in soaking up early Atletico pressure to take control of the first half, and also lots of battling qualities throughout to meet the intensity of Diego Simeone’s men. The class of midfield duo Luka Modric and Toni Kroos shone throughout. Vinicius Junior is already a star at 18, while Gareth Bale‘s 100th goal for the club off the bench was a very welcome landmark.
Madrid’s high defensive line was punished as Antoine Griezmann got away much too easily for Atletico’s break-away goal and almost again when Alvaro Morata thought he had made it 2-2 early in second half.
Manager rating out of 10
7 — Sticking with kids Vinicius and Sergio Reguilon over Bale and Marcelo in the starting XI was again vindicated, with the Welshman then making a decisive contribution off the bench. Solari will really have enjoyed getting one over former teammate Simeone in his first derbi, for what was just Madrid’s second win over Atletico in the last 15 Liga and Copa meetings.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Thibaut Courtois, 7 — Ex-Atletico player was pelted with stuffed-toy rats as pre kick off and then whistled throughout. Was fortunate when caught off his line by a super Alvaro Morata lob, only for VAR to confirm an offside call, then saved well when Jose Maria Gimenez almost made it 2-2.
DF Dani Carvajal, 7 — Solid in defence with opposite number Thomas Lemar unsurprisingly the first Atletico player replaced. Did not get forward too much in attack.
DF Raphael Varane, 7 — Won’t have been happy as international teammate Griezmann raced clear to coolly equalise at 1-1, but otherwise untroubled as Atletico struggled to make many clear chances.
DF Sergio Ramos, 7 — Calmly converted penalty goal and header at a corner assist from Madrid’s captain for his seventh career derbi goal [41 games]. Another player relieved Morata’s ‘goal’ was disallowed as he’d let his former teammate get away behind.
DF Sergio Reguilon, 8 — Under pressure early on as Atletico pressed very high up, but youngster battled really well in his first derbi and is clearly miles ahead of previous first choice left-back Marcelo now.
MF Luka Modric, 8 — Big game performance from Modric who helped his team wrest control of the midfield in first half and provided typically perfect assist for Bale’s clincher.
MF Casemiro, 7 — Showed impressive striker’s instinct and athleticism to bicycle kick bouncing ball to net for opener. Went about his day job at the back of midfield without any fuss too.
MF Toni Kroos, 8 — Moved ball cleverly and enjoyed physical battle in centre of park, frustrating Thomas Partey to such an extent that the Atletico midfielder was red carded for a poor challenge late on. Took the corner from which Casemiro scored, and almost found net himself with ambitious 20 yard side-footed half-volley in first half.
FW Lucas Vazquez, 6 — Tackle on Griezmann deep in own half early on showed the workrate which Solari so values but one half-chance was skied high into the Wanda crowd.
FW Karim Benzema, 7 — Dropped deep to help Madrid outnumber Atletico in midfield areas, and again linked really well with Vinicius to help his side counter-attack. Not as inspired as recent games though and zero clear chances to score himself over the 90 minutes.
FW Vinicius Junior, 8 — Took a while to settle into a game where the intensity was a few steps up from Wednesday’s Copa del Rey Clasico, but the 18 year old soon showed his precocious ability to be involved in a game’s key moments. At fault in losing ball just before Griezmann’s equaliser, but showed searing pace and intelligence to force Gimenez into conceding penalty converted by Ramos.
FW Gareth Bale, 7 — Plenty to prove as he replaced Vinicius just before the hour mark, and showed his composure and class with a perfect low finish to kill off the game. Lucky officials did not see his gestured response to home crowd which showed the Welshman understands local body language very well.
MF Dani Ceballos, N/R — On for Kroos late on with game already won.
FW Mariano Diaz, N/R — Gave Benzema a rest as Solari ran down the clock in added time.