Atletico Madrid on Sunday gave a chance to attack Real Madrid’s La Liga title hopes Karim BenzemaThe late equalizer earned the champions a 1–1 draw and kept them in the race at the top. With Luis Suarez opening early in the first half, it seemed enough to give Atlético a crucial win that put them eight points clear with the game in their opponents’ hands.
But they failed to calculate their authority and Benzema punished them in the 88th minute, their goal being Real Madrid’s earnings that ensured a five-point gap between the two city rivals.
It is still a major lead that Atletico can extend the eight-point mark with 12 matches if they win their game at home to Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday night.
Yet full-time, it was the Real Madrid players who had a smile on their face, while Suárez left the pitch shaking his head, with Atletico only aware that it missed a huge opportunity.
Instead, the title race is much in favor of Atletico but still for Graves, especially Barcelona, who were perhaps the biggest beneficiaries of this result.
Barca, whose members were voting in the club’s new president on Sunday, now sit just two points behind Atletico, and have played more games. They also face Diego Simeon’s side at Camp Nou in May.
Kieran Trippier had played his first game since January after serving his 10-week ban for breaking betting rules, while Benzema again proved his eligibility, starting out prematurely after a groin strain Is considered sufficiently fit for.
Atletico were far better in the first half, stronger, more aggressive, better on the ball and with a clear plan that limited Real Madrid to a long shot from Cassimiro and a superb Benzema header.
By then, Real were behind, with the opening goal coming from a familiar combination on the right. Trippier played from deep into the path of the prolific Marcos Lorente, who threw the ball away from the diving Nacho Fernandez.
A poked Suarez was found behind Rafael Warren and he made a stunning finish around goalkeeper Thibut Corto with the outside of his leg in the far corner.
Atletico won every challenge and loose ball but missed the second goal. Madrid wanted a penalty at the end of the half after a ball failure on the hand, but the referee was unaffiliated even after consulting without oversight.
Real Madrid rallied and the game opened for a while. Nacho got close to the back post before Yannick Carrasco twice improved to Lucas Vazquez, pulling back for Suarez for a second, whose finish was blocked.
Angel Correa scrambled when freed from six yards.
Atlético appeared to regain their authority but they failed to give themselves a pillow and tensions escalated.
Benzema fired and then Jan Oblak deflected an incredible double save, denying the Frenchman a point blank before blocking the rebound.
It was two minutes when Benzema was finally killed. He humbled for Cassimiro and tied the ball through the candle, which capitalized with an ice-cold pull-back for his teammates, who had an open net.
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