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Morata brace helps Atletico end Real winning streak

2023-09-25 HKT 05:33
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  • A perfectly placed header from Alvaro Morata got the party started at the Metropolitano. Photo: AFP
    A perfectly placed header from Alvaro Morata got the party started at the Metropolitano. Photo: AFP
Alvaro Morata struck twice for Atletico Madrid as they inflicted rivals Real Madrid's first defeat of the season, with a 3-1 derby triumph on Sunday in La Liga.

Champions Barcelona sit top of the league as Los Blancos lost their 100 percent record, with Antoine Griezmann also on target for Atletico, fifth, at their raucous Metropolitano stadium.

Real Madrid are third, a point behind Barcelona and high-flying Girona in second place, after they failed to match Atletico's level of intensity in an enthralling clash.

Morata netted an early header and Griezmann doubled Atletico's lead, before Toni Kroos pulled Madrid into the game with a stinging drive before half-time.

However Morata headed home again at the start of the second half and Madrid could not find a way back against an Atletico side bouncing back from what coach Diego Simeone labelled their "weakest" performance of his long reign last weekend.

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has given veteran midfielders Luka Modric and Kroos limited minutes this season but chose to start them both in the team's biggest game of the campaign to date, dropping pivot Aurelien Tchouameni and striker Joselu.

The Italian pushed new arrival Jude Bellingham even further into attack, alongside Rodrygo, instead of in the number 10 role he has starred in since his move from Borussia Dortmund in the summer, scoring six goals in his first six games before the derby.

Real Madrid were without star forward Vinicius Junior, who has recovered from his hamstring injury but suffered a stomach problem on Sunday morning, according to Spanish reports.

It only took four minutes for Atletico to go ahead.

Samuel Lino, playing at left wing-back, whipped a ball in for Morata to head home after escaping the attentions of David Alaba.

The hosts doubled their advantage in the 18th minute when Griezmann directed a header past Kepa Arrizabalaga from Saul Niguez's cross.

Atletico should have made it three after half an hour but Madrid's goalkeeper, on loan from Chelsea, produced a fine low save to deny Saul.

The Rojiblancos were quickly made to pay when Kroos swerved away from Marcos Llorente and drilled past Jan Oblak from the edge of the box.

The German midfield controller was Madrid's stand-out player in the first half and Oblak fielded another of his long-range strikes well.

Eduardo Camavinga tapped home just before half-time but the goal was ruled offside because of Antonio Rudiger's position, to Madrid fury as he did not touch a cross which was curled in his direction.

Atletico defender Jose Gimenez was booked for scything down Rodrygo as tensions rose at the Metropolitano.

Ancelotti sent Joselu on for Modric, the game largely passing the 38-year-old by, yet barely a minute into the second half, Atletico stretched their lead.

Alaba left Morata free behind him, assuming Camavinga would mark the Spain forward, who netted with a free header from Saul's cross.

Mario Hermoso clipped the crossbar with a header as Atletico tried to put the game out of reach of Los Blancos and their penchant for comebacks.

Substitute Tchouameni and Rudiger sent long-range efforts narrowly wide for Madrid as the hosts kept their opponents at arm's length and secured an impressive win.

England international Bellingham, who for the first time since arriving failed to have a strong influence on the game, was booked for a wild tackle on Angel Correa in stoppage time to end a disappointing night. (AFP)

Morata brace helps Atletico end Real winning streak