Madrid pull off another derbi comeback, break Atleti hearts
MADRID — Rodrygo, Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior scored as Real Madrid came back from falling behind to beat Atletico Madrid 3-1 after extra time in Thursday’s Copa del Rey quarterfinals at the Santiago Bernabeu.
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Atletico took the lead in the 19th minute when captain Koke’s pass found full-back Nahuel Molina whose cross delivered a direct finish to Alvaro Morata. Substitute Rodrygo equalized in the second half, beating three Atletico defenders before passing Jan Oblak. Stefan Savic was sent off in extra time to leave Atletico down to ten men before Benzema put the home side ahead and Vinicius added a late third to propel Madrid into the semis alongside Barcelona, Osasuna and Athletic Club.
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1. Real breaks Atletico’s heart in yet another comeback at the Bernabeu
It’s been a tough season for Atletico Madrid. Their Champions League season was a disaster – they finished bottom of their group and even missed out on Europa League football – and their goal in LaLiga is simply a top four result. Now their last chance at a trophy, the Copa del Rey, has been heartbreakingly stolen from them by their local rivals.
Atletico led for an hour at the Bernabeu thanks to Morata’s goal but if we’ve watched Real Madrid in cup competitions last year they never know when they’ve been beaten. From the moment Rodrygo’s spectacular shot equalized, you knew there was only going to be one winner.
Benzema’s goal in extra time – and Vinicius’ third icing on the cake – came as no surprise at all. And while the drama didn’t quite jibe with last year’s Champions League comeback victories over Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City, it shared some of the same DNA: a determined refusal to accept defeat and goalscorers Rodrygo, Benzema and Vinicius appeared with key moments of individual quality.
Madrid derbies are rarely won easily. They have been intense, close affairs since Diego Simeone took over at Atletico more than a decade ago. In fact, the last six encounters between these two clubs in singles matches – the 2013 Copa del Rey final, the 2014 and 2016 Champions League finals, the 2018 UEFA Super Cup final, the 2020 Spanish Supercopa final and now here – are all went into overtime. But while there are exceptions – the 2013 Copa final was won by Atletico, as was the 2018 Super Cup – those clashes tended to please Real Madrid.
Here, the tiny group of Atletico fans up in the corner of the Bernabeu endured another long, ultimately fruitless evening at the stadium while Madrid look forward to the semi-final draw and a chance at another trophy.
2. Vinicius gives it his all on the pitch after facing more racism off it
Vinicius should always be in the spotlight here after the Real Madrid forward was subjected to yet another sickening racist incident ahead of this derby. The conviction of whoever was responsible for hanging a doll containing the striker’s shirt on a bridge near Madrid’s training ground came quickly – Real Madrid, Atletico, LaLiga and the Spanish Football Federation all made statements on Thursday – and the Crowd at the Bernabeu were quick to show their support as well by chanting Vinicius’ name before kick-off.
Madrid’s best early moments were all linked to Vinicius but they failed to capitalize. In the eighth minute, a one-two with Benzema left the Brazil international alone in front of goal, only for defender Reinildo to rush over for a perfect last push. After half an hour, Vinicius lured Savic into a thoughtless tackle on the edge of the Atletico box and Toni Kroos’ free-kick was headed over the bar by Eder Militao.
Mario Hermoso was later booked for knocking out Vinicius when he tried to run past Atletico’s defence. He tried everything – and looked set to equalize for Madrid – but failed to convert until the closing seconds, when he ran into a tiring Atletico and hit deep in the corner, a fitting end to a non- Quit the effort.
3. Morata threatens to haunt his old club again
Atletico’s opener was Morata’s third goal against Real Madrid. The last two also came in a high-profile setting: the 2015 Champions League semi-final, when he scored in both games to help Juventus knock out Madrid. However, this was the first time he wore an Atletico shirt.
The forward has an antagonistic relationship with Madrid fans. They were never entirely convinced of him when he played here at the Bernabeu – an academy product, there were doubts as to whether he was good enough to be Madrid’s centre-forward – and have enjoyed taunting him since his move to Atletico.
In fact, Morata celebrated his goal by obscuring the first three letters of his name on the back of his shirt to leave ‘rata’ – the Spanish word for rat – in reference to one of the many insults thrown his way. It was a promising start, but then a relatively calm performance until he was substituted under whistles in the 63rd minute.
The goal turned out to be a brief moment of joy for Morata, which was long forgotten by the final whistle.
Best and worst performers
BEST: Rodrygo, Real Madrid. Scored a contender goal of the season, dribbled past Hermoso, Savic and Axel Witsel before finishing off Oblak with an outrageous outside shot.
BEST: Eduardo Camavinga, Real Madrid. He seems increasingly comfortable at the base of midfield and has coped remarkably well when he switched to left-back.
BEST: Eder Militao, Atlético Madrid. Another outstanding all-around defensive display of strength, pace and skill on the ball.
WORST: Ferland Mendy, Real Madrid. He couldn’t bring in Morata for his goal and left the pitch injured before half-time.
WORST: Federico Valverde, Real Madrid. It still doesn’t look like he’ll regain his form ahead of the World Cup.
WORST: Thomas Lemar, Atlético Madrid. Struggled to make any impact in midfield.
Highlights and notable moments
The tight control. The outside of the boot. The reference to the name on the back of the shirt. What’s not to love about Rodrygo?
RODRYGO OUT OF THIS WORLD! 😱 pic.twitter.com/wTGaXF6ZvV
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 26, 2023
After the game: What the players/coaches said
Benzema: “It was a difficult game but with character and the players we have we were able to come back. It’s not good to suffer, we should score earlier. … It’s a unique game. They defend deep and it is difficult For us, the most important thing is to keep going. … [Rodrygo] scored a great goal, he has a lot of talent.”
Oblak: “We played a good first half. The second half wasn’t so good, they increased their rhythm and equalized. We went down to ten men and it was even more difficult. We had chances, we played well and the Reds Card for Savic.” punished us, but that’s football.”
Key Statistics (provided by ESPN Stats & Information Research)
– Morata’s goal was his third career goal against former club Madrid and his first against him Los Blancos as a member of Atlético.
– Before Thursday, Madrid had not conceded their first goal in a league match derby since 1949.
– Rodrygo has scored two goals in his last ten appearances for Madrid in all competitions, but both have been either game-winning or game-changing goals.
– Real Madrid’s last comeback win against Atlético was in the 2014 Champions League final.
Real Madrid: Madrid will return to LaLiga on Sunday when they host Real Sociedad at the Bernabeu (3 p.m. ET, live stream on ESPN+).
Atletico Madrid: Atlético travel to Pamplona for a LaLiga clash against Osasuna on Sunday (10am ET, live stream on ESPN+).
https://www.espn.com/soccer/spanish-copa-del-rey/story/4861944/madrid-pull-off-another-derbi-comeback-break-atleti-hearts Madrid pull off another derbi comeback, break Atleti hearts