This past Sunday Real Madrid regained its status of co-leader of the Spanish League next to Barcelona after beating Atletico Madrid 3-2 in the Madrid Derby at the Santiago Bernabeu. The team led by Manuel Pellegrini recovered in time to an initial disadvantage and remained undefeated in the Spanish classic, keeping their record of over a decade. Real Madrid is now tied with Barcelona at the top of the league with 74 points, but has the goal difference advantage. Starting the match both teams were motivated and concentrated on performing their game plan. However, Atletico surprised in the first half, when Jose Antonio Reyes opened the scoring at minute 10 with a shot after a pass of Sergio Aguero and gave a 1-0 advantage to the Colchoneros. Each visitor’s attack was a warning. Reyes, Aguero, Simao and Forlan put on alert the white side in several occasions. On the other hand, Real Madrid played with impulse in the sidelines looking for individual actions while the team coached by Quique Sanchez Flores played with caution and calm, which gave them the first goal with the ease and speed its rival lacked of. Madrid had some great options to tie the game in the final minutes of the first half. The first one happened after a corner in which David De Gea showed his class by deflecting a shot from Marcelo.
Then, Tiago avoided Gonzalo Higuain’s attempt on the goal line. And just at the edge of halftime, Cristiano Ronaldo had an opportunity with a header that went out of the De Gea’s goal. Real Madrid returned from halftime as a completely different team. Their determination was demonstrated in the first action of the second half in a corner, in which the Whites tied the scoring. The ball fell near the back post and there was Xabi Alonso, who beat De Gea to put the scoreboard 1-1. After this goal, Real Madrid set the pace of the match. And in ten minutes they turned the scoring on their favor when Xabi Alonso performed a spectacular pass to Alvaro Arbeloa, which surprised the Rojiblancos. Arbeloa did the rest as he beat the defense quickly and set the second goal for the Meringues. With the 2-1 advantage, Real Madrid controlled the game even more and third goal for the Meringues came at minute 63. This third goal was triggered by an error of Atletico as the Portuguese Tiago and the Brazilian Asuncao didn’t understood each other in a play, and the Argentine Higuain took advantage to score his 23rd goal of the season.
However just five minutes later, the Uruguayan Diego Forlan cut the lead by converting a penalty kick at minute 68, after a hand of Alonso in the goal area. Forlan’s goal put emotion to the game in the final minutes. However, Atletico Madrid couldn’t score for a tie as the Meringues did a great job in defense controlling the ball when they had to. At the end, the game finished 3-2 in favor of Real Madrid. With this triumph, the Meringues added 74 points and returned to the top of the standings with Barcelona, who beat Mallorca 1-0 on Saturday. At the end of the match, Cristiano Ronaldo stated that he was happy with the result and the way his team played in the second half. “We played well today. The team was in good shape. We had plenty of chances and all that counts is that we scored three goals in the second half. It says a lot. I am very happy,” Ronaldo said.