WIth an embarrassing slate of games behind the club and manager Jose Mourinho under fire for his team's poor play, Real Madrid answered the bell with a decisive 2-0 home victory over Atletico Madrid on Saturday.
Mourinho's team had the ball for 66 percent of the match, and dominated the shots on goal by a 6-2 margin. Atletico Madrid didn't have a shot attempt on goal in the second half.
The frustrating streak of losses to Real Madrid at Bernabeu continues for Atletico Madrid, as the latter still hasn't been able to knock of its La Liga rival since 1999—a 13-year span that will continue for at least one more.
Behind two beautiful goals from Los Blancos during the first 65 minutes of play, the rivalry will continue without Los Rojiblancos picking up any more points in the La Liga standings towards No. 1 Barcelona.
The crowd was rocking and active for Los Blancos on Saturday in a very physical match that had to be stopped every so often for fouls and yellow cards for both teams. Sami Khedira had a yellow for Real Madrid, while three players for Atletico were carded on the night.
Cristiano Ronaldo got his team on the board with a beautiful free-kick goal right over the heads of Los Rojiblancos' wall and just inside the left post behind the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. Mesut Ozil capped the scoring in the 66th minute to put the game out of reach for the challengers.
The fixture gives Real Madrid two points in the standings toward making a late push at Barcelona and the top of the La Liga standings. It also keeps Mourinho out of the spotlight for now, while giving the club some confidence with Champions League play right around the corner.
Here's a look at both goals for Real Madrid on the day, as well as a near-miss from Ronaldo that capped a rough day for the star midfielder.
This first video is a look at Ronaldo's first goal, a bender that got the crowd involved and brought up old memories from fixtures of seasons past.
Ozil had this beautiful volley goal to really put the nail in the coffin for Atletico Madrid.
Here's the near miss that would have added an extra point to the standings for Real Madrid.
Cristiano Ronaldo: B
Ronaldo was magnificent in the first half, but he missed a couple of chances to extend the lead late in the game—that's the reason for the "B" grade.
He took punishment most of the match, and was able to draw fouls and cards from the Atletico defenders all night. That proved true on the match's first goal, when he used a free kick to give Real Madrid the lead.
However, two late misses wide of the net and off the crossbar would have sent a message to Diego Simeone's team that Real is back with a vengeance.
Mesut Ozil: A
Ozil had a goal, a near-assists and kept the pressure up during Real's attack. His volley goal was a thing of beauty and helped squash any early second half momentum Atletico was gaining.
He also had a nice cross to Ronaldo that should have been converted, taking the long lead pass from the other side of the pitch and immediately seeing his teammate streaking down the left side. Good game for Ozil.
Radamel Falcao: C
The young star for Atletico couldn't get anything going. If his club was going to reverse the trend of the previous 12 years, it was going to have to be on his back.
Unfortunately, Pepe and Sergio Ramos helped keep him from having much of an impact on the game.
Arda Turan: D
It's a harsh grade for the midfielder, but his hand ball in the 15th minute was the direct cause of the Ronaldo goal just moments later.
There was no need to put his hands on the ball as Ronaldo tried to keep it in Atletico's end, but Turan stuck his hand out and got a yellow card from the referee for doing so.
In hindsight, Real wasn't in the game at all up to that point, but that's how quickly things can change with a free kick that close to the net. Turan isn't to blame for the lack of attack on the outside or inability to convert corners, but he got the ball rolling and couldn't stop it—especially when looking at the crowd noise after that play.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.