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La Liga: Atletico Madrid 1 Real Madrid 2

Real Madrid kept their faint title hopes alive with a 2-1 win over local rivals Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon on Saturday.

An own goal from Juanfran and a second-half strike from Angel di Maria were enough to cancel out Radamel Falcao’s early opener, and claim the points for the visitors.

Real Madrid made nine changes from the side that lost to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, with Cristiano Ronaldo being the most notable absentee due to a minor leg injury.

Meanwhile, Diego Costa earned place in the home team’s line-up after having had his yellow card against Sevilla overturned.

Jose Mourinho’s side would have been looking for a positive response on the back of their 4-1 humiliation at the hands of Dortmund in midweek.

But it was Atletico who raced out of the blocks, and were ahead after just four minutes when Falcao took advantage of some sloppy defending to head home a Diego Godin cross at the far post.

Real Madrid struggled to assert themselves on the game early on, with Atletico seeing plenty of the ball in midfield during the opening minutes.

But Real managed to put themselves back on level terms just before the 15-minute mark, when an Angel di Maria free-kick eluded everyone before deflecting off Juanfran to creep past Atletico keeper Thibault Courtois.

Courtois was involved again just before half-time, producing an impressive one-on-one save to deny Karim Benzema inside the box.

The match was a predictably fiery affair during the first period, with a total of six yellow cards shown.

Atletico began the second half with a similar level of urgency, Falcao inches away from connecting with a flashed Lopez cross within a minute of the restart.

Indeed it was the hosts who were seemingly asking all the questions as the second half wore on, with Gabi and Luis Garcia both missing good opportunities.

But it was the visitors who took the lead just after the hour mark, after a swift counter-attack resulted in Di Maria breaking away from the Atletico defence to slot home.

Atletico responded well, and felt they should have had a penalty just a few minutes later, when Falcao was brought down in the box by Michael Essien, who was drafted in at right-back for the evening.

Adrian Lopez replaced Luis Garcia, as the hosts searched for a way back in to the game within the last 20 minutes, but the hosts struggled to find a way through the visitors’ back line.

But when Filipe Luis did manage to find some space in the box in the last few minutes, he could only hit the side netting.

In the end Real held out for their tenth consecutive derby victory, and closed the gap to leaders Barcelona to 11 points with four games remaining. Atletico stay in third.
Sat 27 April, 2013
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