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Etletico Madrid Show Up Real At Bernabeu Again Thanks To Arda Turan

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THE champions of Spain defeated the champions of Europe as the balance of power in Madrid shifted again. Arda Turan came off the bench to score the goal that took Atlético to a 2-1 victory here, expertly steering home with 15 minutes remaining.

Atlético had not beaten their neighbours in 14 years and 25 matches until they won the Copa del Rey here in May last year. They have returned twice in the league since then and won both times. They have also taken the league title, becoming the first team outside the big two to do so in a decade, and began this season defeating Real Madrid to win the Spanish Super Cup.

Nothing will ever make up for the loss in the European Cup final, of course. For Real, meanwhile, the décima will never be taken away. But at the end of this game, there were whistles for the home team, the only cheers coming from a tiny pocket of supporters high in the north stand. Atlético proved that they were not sunk by Lisbon, resisting the return of the jinx that has pursued them. They have a five-point lead over their rivals already; Carlo Ancelotti’s team have been beaten twice in their opening three league games.

Atlético have recovered from what their captain Gabi described as a “shattered dream”, and they also recovered from an uncharacteristically unconvincing first-half performance that coach Diego Simeone admitted he had not liked at all. Despite taking an early lead, they had suffered, yet by the end considered themselves worthy winners.

The clock didn’t even show 10 minutes when Atlético took the lead and the genesis was familiar to both sides. For Atlético there was satisfaction in seeing Tiago head home at the near post to score their fifth goal of the season and their fourth from a set play. For Real, this was another set play, another ball in the air, another goal conceded. Seven of the past 15 have come this way in the league. Tiago had been unattended between Ronaldo and Karim Benzema and did not even jump, but many fans whistled goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Madrid’s response slowly gathered pace, led by Ronaldo. He ran at the Brazilian full-back Guilherme Siqueira, pushing him into the area. If Ronaldo was looking for the foul, Siqueira obliged, and clumsily. Ronaldo scored the penalty. Other chances followed and Atlético lost their usual assuredness, appearing open, vulnerable and oddly passive. They were grateful for a heavy touch from Benzema when he was through and then Miguel Ángel Moyà pushed away a header from the same man.

Atlético refound their composure during the break and the game slowed: the chances were as few as the passing exchanges. A harmless header from Gareth Bale was easily held by Moyà moments after Atlético had opened Real up, only for Mario Mandzukic to miss the run from Siqueira to his left and to stall before shifting his weight to shoot, denying himself the space to do so. And that was pretty much that.

But the changes changed everything; the balance tilted. Turan and Antoine Griezmann replaced Raúl Jiménez and Gabi and immediately combined to offer a glimpse of the enormous impact they would have. This time, the Turk curled just wide of the far post. Next, he dived to reach a header that flashed wide. Atlético had recovered well and were taking the initiative. Then came the moment that led Atlético to defeat Real here for the second year in a row, only the sixth team ever to do so.

It began with a throw-in, Juanfran to Griezmann, who wriggled away from pressure and played it back to Juanfran. His low ball into the area reached Raúl García, but instead of striking it, García faked the shot and stepped over the ball, allowing it to run on to Turan. He side-footed a wonderful shot, first time, across Casillas and into the far corner. For 15 years, this game was no contest, a foregone conclusion losing its appeal. But Atlético have been revived and so has the Madrid derby. – The Guardian

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