But match spoiled by diving, stamping, pushing and play acting
Real Madrid all but booked their place in the Spanish Cup final with convincing 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid in an ill-tempered first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu – the scene of last year’s final which they lost to their city rivals.
It was hardly revenge served cold in a heated affair with both sides fortunate to finish with 11 men.
There is nothing like the slower tempo and technical superiority of the sophisticated Spanish game, but this was nothing of the sort.
Elation: Real Madrid players celebrate after they take the lead at the Baernabeu
Flashy: Cristiano Ronaldo tries some step-overs during a fairly quiet match for the Ballon d’Or winner
Delight: Pepe celebrates after putting Real Madrid in front during the first half
Real Madrid: Casillas, Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Coentrao, Modric, Alonso, Di Maria, Jese, Benzema, Ronaldo
Subs: Diego Lopez, Varane, Marcelo, Carvajal, Morata, Isco, Illaramendi
Goal: Insua (OG) 17, Jese 57, Di Maria 73
Atletico Madrid: Courtois, Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Insua, Raul Garcia, Koke, Gabi, Arda Turan, Diego Ribas, Costa
Subs: Aranzubia, Tiago, Adrian, Cristian Rodriguez, Alderweireld, Manquillo, Sosa
Booked: Diego Ribas, Diego Costa
Alvaro Arbeloa went through the back of Diego Costa inside the first minute to set the tone for the rest of the first half in which incredibly only two players were booked by referee Carlos Clos Gomez.
He also missed the defender raking studs down the back of Diego Costa’s leg in a crowded penalty area.
Atletico usually thrive when the game becomes open warfare but Madrid out-battled them over ninety minutes and with a deflected goal from Pepe, an excellent second from Jese – the 20-year-old currently replacing the injured Gareth Bale – and another fortune strike from Angel Di Maria, they now look favourites to make what could well be a clasico final against Barcelona.
After his early welcome to the game for Costa, it was Arbeloa who sent the deep cross over that just went beyond Ronaldo at the back post. And the former Liverpool full-back then won a corner after some Jese trickery as Madrid applied the early pressure.
Shoving: The unnecessary argy-bargy scenes all through the match made it difficult to watch
Killing off the game: Thibaut Courtois is wrong-footed as Angel Di Mari’s shot makes it 3-0
Miranda fresh-air kicked inside his own penalty area trying to clear Di Maria’s cross leading to another corner and when Modric planted it on Benzema’s head his effort hit Gabi on the chest to shouts of handball.
Atletico finally had their first chance on 12 mintues when Raul Garcia crossed from the right and Arda Turan’s header had to be turned away by Iker Casillas, but Madrid went straight down the other end and Di Maria flashed a cross to the edge of the six-yard box which Benzema just failed to reach.
On 17 minutes the home side took the lead. Pepe surged forward and hit a shot from 30 yards that clipped Insua on its way to goal deflecting past Thibuat Courtois.
Pepe looked on his way out last season as Jose Mourinho very publicly said he preferred the younger Raphael Varane but he has been outstanding all season and had given Madrid the all-important first goal. Carlo Ancelotti’s English assistant Paul Clement was soon out in the technical area shouting orders to Real’s defenders as they pushed and pulled Diego Costa between them.
Pace and power: Ronaldo bursts clear away from Atletico midfielder Arda Turan
Upended: Diego Costa falls to the ground after a coming together with Alvaro Arbeloa
The lone Atletico striker sinned and was sinned against, barging Pepe to the ground and then pushing Arbeloa over. He then got Pepe booked, exaggerating contact after a foul. The home bench errupted with even Zinedine Zidane remonstrating with the fourth official as the defender’s name was taken.
On the pitch Atletico had come close to equalising with Casillas saving from Miranda. Then a fine double save from Courtois, first from Jese after he had been fed by Modric and then by the former Tottenham man himself, kept the score at just 1-0.
Despite it being his birthday, Ronaldo had been quiet. He had the last chance of the first half with Courtois making a comfortable save and then had the first chance of the second period with a step-over and shot that again Courtois dealt with.
But Madrid soon doubled their lead. It will not be long before Real Madrid supporters start questioning the wisdom of the club’s £85million outlay on Bale with youth-teamer Jese looking every bit an full international in the making.
Stretching: Fabio Coentrao gets to the ball before Atletico defender Juanfran
Battle in the middle: Atletico midfielder Koke faces up to Luka Modric
Playing in Bale’s right-hand forward berth he darted inside on 57 minutes to send a shot beneath Courtois’ dive after running on to Di Maria’s pass.
The Argentine then had a shot saved by Courtois and Ronaldo went close from a corner before Di Maria made it three with another shot from distance that deflected past Courtois.
Modric had cleared off the line moments before the goal from a Godin header and his name was soon ringing around the stadium. Arsenal target Morata’s introduction also got a big roar and it was he who laid the ball back to Di Maria for his goal.
Perhaps the biggest ovation of the night was reserved for Jese as he was taken off with five minutes left. Ancelotti will be without Ronaldo for the next three league games so he can bring Bale back without dropping the youngster.
Ronaldo had a late shot saved by Courtois and looked angry at not adding to his season’s tally. But this was not a night for Real Madrid regrets – they had taken on the league leaders and cup holders and reminded them just who is No 1 in the Spanish capital.
Familiar face: Zinedine Zidane peers out of the dugout as he watches Real
Unhappy: Karim Benzema talks to Atletico keeper Thibaut Courtois after the pair collided
Fuming: Atletico boss Diego Simeone has words with the fourth official during the game
Source : Daily Mail