Karim Benzema Leads Real Madrid Past Atletico Madrid in La Liga Derby Win

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2020

Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema celebrates after acoring a goal during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and Club Atletico de Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on February 1, 2020. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP) (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

Real Madrid beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 in Saturday's derby, keeping hold of their top spot in La Liga with a pivotal win over their local rivals. Karim Benzema scored the only goal of the match. 

Atletico had the better chances before the break, but Zinedine Zidane made the right changes at half-time, and Los Blancos dominated the second half. Benzema opened the scoring after 56 minutes with his first-ever goal against Atletico at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

The win means Real now have six points more than second-placed Barcelona, who will host Levante on Sunday.

Real controlled possession early in the contest, but the best chances fell to Atletico throughout the first half. Los Blancos struggled with the pace and physicality of their forwards, but the Rojiblancos' issues in front of goal hurt them yet again.

AS' Robbie Dunne thought Real were lucky their opponents were not efficient:

Robbie Dunne @robbiejdunne

If a clinical team played Madrid, you’d have to worry about them. Atlético, who have been close to awful for a couple of weeks, are the better side here.

Sergio Ramos headed the first chance of the match over the crossbar, and the defender also missed with a shot from the penalty spot. On the other end of the pitch, Saul Niguez's shot went narrowly wide.

Angel Correa hit the post from a tight angle, and Alvaro Morata was furious he wasn't awarded a penalty when Casemiro clearly pulled him to the ground.

Per sports writer Dermot Corrigan, the ball should have gone on the spot:

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

Looks a penalty that for me - Casemiro does well to 'disguise' the foul as he tried to make up for his own letting Saul go, then poor touch in the box.

Benzema also wanted a penalty after minor contact with Felipe, and replays confirmed it was the right decision not to award it.

The last chance of the half fell to Luka Modric, who finally put Jan Oblak to work with a curling shot.

Los Blancos brought on Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Jr. at the break and started the second half well, testing Oblak almost immediately through Federico Valverde. 

Atletico struggled to contain Real's wide men, and it was no surprise the breakthrough came after one of them got loose. Ferland Mendy played in a great ball for Benzema, who pushed the ball past Oblak after 56 minutes.

EiF thought Zidane's half-time changes paid off:

EiF @EiFSoccer

That’s so good by Vinicius and Mendy to set up Benzema for a big goal. Madrid were pretty pedestrian in the first half, but as he typically does, Zidane made early, proactive substitutions and it’s helped immediately.

Real didn't let up and pushed for more goals, but a cross from Dani Carvajal found no one. Felipe cleared a cross from Benzema before Valverde got get his head to it, and Vinicius powered a shot straight at Oblak.

Modric just missed from a promising position, firing wide, while Thomas Partey didn't have any more luck, blasting over. Vinicius did better, but he could only aim a shot at Oblak after a clever run. 

The introduction of Sergio Camello and Yannick Carrasco was supposed to inject some pace into Atletico's attack, but without a natural target man, the Rojiblancos seemed lost. Morata had gone off early in the second half with a knock, and Diego Simeone's troops never found a backup plan.


What's Next?

Los Blancos will host Real Sociedad in the Copa del Rey on Thursday. Atletico face Granada in La Liga on Saturday..