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Atleti salvage Derbi draw

Antoine Griezmann’s late goal blew the La Liga title race wide open as Atletico Madrid salvaged a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid in Saturday’s Derbi.

Madrid were unchanged from the 2016 Champions League final, while Yannick Carrasco was Atleti’s only newcomer, with Augusto Fernandez a long-term casualty.

Los Colchoneros had won their last three games at the Bernabeu, although the hosts were comprehensive 3-0 victors the last time these two sides met back in November.

Madrid struggled to impose their usual fast start on Atleti, who were simply quicker out of the traps. Fernando Torres met Koke’s inswinging free kick, but the striker could only glance his header wide of the far post.

At the other end, Cristiano Ronaldo shifted inside on his stronger right foot and bent a shot towards Oblak’s bottom-left corner, which the goalkeeper got a hand to.

The tide eventually turned in Los Blancos’ favour, and a lovely one-two between Ronaldo and Karim Benzema left the latter with only Oblak to beat. However, the No 9’s shot was tipped over by the Slovenian.

Ronaldo came even closer when he blasted the ball past Oblak, just inside the Atleti box, but Stefan Savic cleared the Portuguese’s effort off the line in the nick of time.

Griezmann suddenly found himself in a one-on-two with Pepe and Sergio Ramos, before angling a shot towards the bottom-right corner of Keylor’s goal, which the Costa Rican tipped around the post.

Madrid fluffed two glorious chances in the two opening minutes of the first half. Ronaldo rose above Diego Godin but couldn’t guide his penalty-area header on target, before Benzema failed to beat Oblak at the goalkeeper’s near post.

However, just moments later, Pepe channelled his inner Sergio Ramos to power a header past the former Benfica custodian and put Madrid deservedly ahead.

Gareth Bale was anonymous for most part of the afternoon, although he did manage to drive past Filipe Luis before teeing up Dani Carvajal for the volley. The right-back’s shot on the edge of Atleti’s box flew inches over.

Yet for all of Los Merengues’ domination, the visitors should’ve pulled one back from a quick-fire break. Yannick Carrasco threaded through Torres for a one-on-one with Keylor, but the striker flung his finish straight at the goalkeeper.
Griezmann then unleashed a perfectly-improvised overhead kick in the Madrid area, which was tipped away by Keylor, although the linesman’s flag duly went up.

Los Colchoneros switched to a 4-3-3 formation for the final 10 minutes, and the change paid dividends as another through ball was played in behind Madrid’s centre-backs, allowing Griezmann to slide past Keylor from a tight angle.

Barcelona will subsequently move top of La Liga with victory over struggling Malaga on Saturday evening, setting up for a potentially-decisive Clasico on April 23, despite Madrid’s game in hand.

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