Three aims against Atltico Madrid considered Cristiano Ronaldo pass Alfredo Di Stfanos record for objectives scored in a Madrid derby as Real Madrid won their La Liga encounter 3-0 at Vicente Caldern
Real Madrid went to the Vicente Caldern and won for one last hour. At the end of this season, Atltico are leaving their home down by the Manzanares; Real will not be back to the arena that they left victorious for the 30 th day. This, like “the mens” who secured it, will be remembered on their side of township. Cristiano Ronaldos hat-trick here took him beyond Alfredo Di Stfano: no player has ever scored as many Madrid derby aims. It also took Real, unbeaten in 29 games, nine points clear of Atltico in the league, four above Barcelona.
There was symbolism here, too, the sense that something changed. Zinedine Zidane described his team as enormous. Not many sides will win here, he told. That has included his side of late: Real had defeated Atltico twice in three years in the Champions League final, but Diego Simeone had resuscitated a derby that had died, and Atltico had been beaten only once in 11. Defeat was possible, but defeat like this was unexpected.
Real Madrid were without Casemiro, Pepe and Toni Kroos, and there was no starting place for Sergio Ramos or Karim Benzema, returning from trauma. If that seemed problematic, it may have proven beneficial. Zidane has always said that the BBC a front three of Bale, Benzema and Cristiano is non-negotiable; without them, he did not only change personnels, he changed stances too. Madrid began with something close to a 4-4-2, with Gareth Bale to the left of midfield and Lucas Vzquez to the right. Up front was Ronaldo and, falling off him, Isco.
One of Madrids recurring problems against Atltico has been that they almost invariably detected themselves outnumbered in midfield, red and white shirts flooding the area beyond their front three and to either side of the middle three. Here, it was different. The middle is fundamental, Zidane acknowledged. Madrid had four-plus-one in there, the space denied when Atltico appeared to run. On either side, Bale and Lucas ran tirelessly though only occasionally broke free it was the latter who was brought down in the move that lead to the opener and the former who provided the third goal.
In this formation, Ronaldos position was the No9 role he has increasingly adopted over the last two years and he answered his way: with a hat-trick. Isco, meanwhile, determined himself in a role that rarely exists in this side and one in which, devoted freedom and responsibility, suits him best. His best position, in his managers words. For 45 minutes he was superb: occur, dribbling, turning, running, his touch smooth. Bandy-legged, wide-hipped, so often in possession, he stood out. From the middle, he combined with Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic and carried towards Ronaldo.
Twice in the opening one-quarter of an hour, Isco lifted the ball cleverly, virtually gently, over the head of foes. Modric and Kovacic had a man to seek in short; Madrid had a human waiting to receive when they went long, the knock downs often his. Marcelo cleared a hard, swinging Yannick Carrasco free-kick at the far post, then Nacho hooked away from Fernando Torres and soon after Stefan Savic volleyed wide from Kokes angled pass. All that happened in the opening 10 minutes, but then it did not happen again. Atltico looked unsure in the middle, exactly where they are usually so strong.
Madrid began to exercise a degree of control. It was not total but it was there, ushered in by Ronaldos header from Marcelos ball. The Portuguese thought that Jan Oblak had saved it over the line.
Ronaldo then failed to connect from the leading edge of the area and Oblak saved Modrics shot. When Lucas was brought down 28 metres from objective, there was another chance. Ronaldo stepped back, that long, paced-out run-up and struck the free-kick straight-out at the wall, which opened. The ball went between Gabi and Savic, making the central defender on the hip, changing course and going in. He had gone 33 shootings without beating Oblak not including that penalty in Milan and soon he had a 35 th, turning cleverly inside Godin but not getting sufficient power with his right foot.
Atltico flew out at the start of the second half. Inside the opening five minutes, Carrasco curled over, Antoine Griezmann flashed one across the face of objective, and then he shot from distance.
At the other aim, Bale headed over. A double change followed: Kvin Gameiro and Angel Correa appeared to make good the change, but the rebellion was quashed swiftly. Isco hit the post and then, with 20 minutes left and the game alive, an Atltico goal kick objective it.
Raphal Varane leapt to head it, the ball travelling 30 yards, over the top and back into Atlticos area. Ronaldo and Savic operated after it, grappling for posture. The defender fell, legs up, and brought Ronaldo down. Accidental, perhaps, but a penalty.
Ronaldo against Oblak from 12 yards again, just like the very last kick down Milan; just like Milan, Ronaldo scored. The game was over, Atltico crushed, Simeone later saying his squad had watched its hope cut, but that was not the last of it. Bale broke on the left, released by Isco, and delivered the perfect pass for Ronaldo to score the very last derby objective at the Caldern.
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