Real Madrid salvage 1-1 draw with Atletico

Madrid, Feb 25 (EFE).- Defending LaLiga champions Real Madrid needed a goal in the 85th minute Saturday to draw 1-1 with Atletico Madrid, who went ahead after going down to 10 men.

The result leaves the Blancos 7 points behind leaders Barcelona, away Sunday to 18th-place Almeria, while the Colchoneros have an edge of 5 points over Real Betis in the scrap for fourth and the accompanying ticket to the Champions League.

Having already beaten Atleti twice this season, in LaLiga and again in the Copa del Rey, Real Madrid started Saturday’s derby at the Santiago Bernabeu as the favorites.

Both teams were cautious in the first half, but the hosts dominated possession and created danger in front of the Atletico goal.

Keeper Jan Oblak did well to stop a blast from distance by Marco Asensio in the 9th minute, while Karim Benzema was unable to redirect a cross from Eder Militao in the 11th.

As the match approached 20 minutes, Atleti coach Diego Simeone made a tactical adjustment, telling Marcos Llorente drop back to help contain Vinicius Jr. and the shift opened up more space for Yannick Carrasco, who had the visitors’ only chance of the opening period.

With the game still scoreless after an hour, Carlo Ancelotti made a triple-substitution in midfield, turning to Luka Modric, Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelian Tchouameni in hopes of energizing the Blancos’ attack.

The change was followed in short order by what looked like a break for the hosts, as Angel Correa was sent off in the 64th minute with a straight red card after the referee concluded he elbowed Antonio Rüdiger.

Instead of falling back to defend, the Colchoneros rushed forward and their efforts eventually bore fruit, drawing a foul to set up a free kick in dangerous territory.

Antoine Griezmann lofted a perfect ball into the path of Jose Maria Gimenez and the defender headed past Thibaut Courtois to give Atletico the advantage with 12 minutes left in regulation.

Tchouameni and Camavinga probed the visiting defense and Real Madrid secured a corner in the 85th minute. Modric sent a high cross into the box and 18-year-old Alvaro Rodriguez leapt to meet it with a header that Oblak couldn’t stop.

EFE rmm/dr

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