A second-half goal from Karim Benzema saw LaLiga leaders Real Madrid beat city rivals Atletico Madrid 1-0 on Saturday afternoon at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
After a first half in which Atletico were arguably the better side but lacked the final punch, Los Blancos rebounded nicely in the second period thanks to a pair of substitutions, which helped lead to the French striker’s decisive goal.
Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane reverted back to the five-man midfield that he used in last month Supercopa de Espana clash with Los Colchoneros, meaning Ferland Mendy slotted in at left-back, Isco was the most advanced player in midfield and Benzema was the lone forward upfront.
Atletico boss Diego Simeone opted for Marcos Llorente in midfield, while Hector Herrera was a curious omission from the line-up. After a pair of scuffed shots from Sergio Ramos, the Atletico trio of Vitolo, Alvaro Morata and Angel Correa all gave notice with a crack each at goal, and the latter even hit the post for the visitors.
Atletico also had a penalty shout when Casemiro and Morata collided in the area, but referee Javier Estrada Fernandez and VAR ruled otherwise.Half-time came with Real Madrid out of sorts and Benzema hardly even seeing the ball.
Zidane was quick to act, yanking the ineffective Isco for Lucas Vazquez, while Vinicius Junior replaced Toni Kroos. Real Madrid were immediately more dynamic and Vinicius was the spark that led to the opener as he split two Atletico players with a pass onto the underlapping Mendy, whose cross met Benzema and the French striker finished for a 1-0 Real Madrid lead.
Simeone needed someone to step up in attack, but with Morata leaving earlier with an injury and Vitolo not posing much danger since half-time, the Argentine had to rely on substitutes Thomas Lemar and the recently returned Yannick Carrasco, plus youngster Sergio Camello.
Even with just a one-goal lead, Real Madrid were in control of things, with Atletico reduced to just a couple corner kicks for their chances at goal. In the end, closing things out was no problem for Zidane’s men, who pocketed another three points and extended their unbeaten run to 21 games.