Madrid, Mar 7 (efe-epa).- French forward Karim Benzema on Sunday scored a last-minute goal to secure a 1-1 draw for Real Madrid against La Liga leader and crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid, keeping his team in the running for Spain’s First Division title.
Atletico Madrid got off to a good start, putting Real Madrid under pressure for the most of the game, but thanks to Benzema and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois’ intervention at the beginning of the second half, the Merengue were able to garner a point and deny Atletico the three points they thought they’d secured.
Atletico took the lead at the 15-minute mark, when Marcos Llorente’s pass set up forward Luis Suarez for a one-on-one situation against Courtois. The Uruguayan striker did not hesitate and his outside right-footed shot found the back of the net.
Thanks to its high-pressure offense and the goal, Atletico Madrid dictated the game during the first half, despite two attempts by Benzema, who was back in Real Madrid’s starting lineup after missing three games due to a muscle injury, and a volley by Casemiro.
Real Madrid unsuccessfully claimed a penalty kick after Felipe supposedly struck the ball with his hand inside the area in the 39th minute, but referee Hernandez Hernandez did not grant them a penalty after checking the play. This was as close as Real Madrid got to scoring for an hour.
It was in the opening minutes of the second half that Courtois jumped to the rescue of his team as he blocked Yannick Carrasco’s effort and prevented Suarez from scoring again shortly thereafter.
This intervention proved to be as important as the goal by Benzema, who tried his luck twice in the remaining minutes, with goalkeeper Jan Oblak blocking his close chances.
The third, however, proved to be the charm, as the French forward successfully culminated a one-two play with Casemiro inside the area that ended up with Benzema putting the ball into the wide open net with two minutes to go before second half stoppage time.
With the draw, Real Madrid are third in the La Liga table with 54 points, five points behind leader Atletico. EFE-EPA