Madrid rivals fire blanks while Barca pads lead

China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-20 07:51

MADRID - Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid dropped 10 points behind Barcelona at the top of La Liga on Saturday as a Madrid derby short on chances finished 0-0 at Atletico's Wanda Metropolitano.

Earlier, Luis Suarez's double ended a five-game goal drought for the Uruguayan and Paulinho's late strike helped Barca see off a determined Leganes 3-0.

Both Madrid sides have displayed a familiar lack of form in front of goal this season, but it was Atletico that passed up the best chance when Angel Correa fired wide after just three minutes.

"We lacked a goal, but apart from that I feel for the players because they deserved more," said Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.

"Ten points is a lot to make up, but that will change for sure because Barca will not always win and we will be in the running."

After a bright start from Atletico, Real's first chance came on the counterattack, but Juanfran outpaced Cristiano Ronaldo when the Portuguese was sent through clean by Luka Modric, much to the home crowd's delight.

"In the first 25 minutes you saw the team we are against is the best team in the world, who had the need to win after Barca's win," said Atletico boss Diego Simeone.

"We are finding it hard to score goals. If we score with Correa it would have changed the game completely."

The visitors slowly started to take control of possession as the first half wore on, but lacked a creative spark.

Jan Oblak turned aside Toni Kroos' effort at the near post after a neat one-two with Ronaldo, then Sergio Ramos was left bloodied and eventually replaced at halftime with a broken nose as he was caught by Lucas Hernandez as he stooped to head into the side-netting.

Ronaldo's profligacy has been blamed for Real's slump in form this season and the Portuguese was once again wayward with his side's best chance as his tame effort from Modric's pass dribbled wide.

Antoine Griezmann was jeered off after another underwhelming display 15 minutes from time.

"As long as someone is in my family, I am with them to the death," an irritated Simeone said of the Frenchman's treatment.

Madrid rivals fire blanks while Barca pads lead

Griezmann's replacement, Kevin Gameiro, nearly grabbed the winner when his lobbed effort was cleared off the line by Raphael Varane.

At the other end, Ronaldo took too long to wind up his effort as Hernandez galloped back into position to make a brave block in a frantic finale and ensure Atletico a share of the spoils.

Barca flattered

Meanwhile, Barca boss Ernesto Valverde said the 3-0 triumph flattered his side at Butarque as goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen again shone.

"The important thing was to win," Suarez told BeIN Sports Spain. "We always try to play our best in every game, but sometimes it is not possible."

Leganes' good work in the opening half hour was undone by a goalkeeping error when Ivan Cuellar limply palmed Paco Alcacer's driven cross into the path of the grateful Suarez, who smashed home his first goal in a month.

"I wasn't anxious. The important thing was to feel good again and help the team," said Suarez.

Barca's joy was tempered moments later when Gerard Pique was booked for bringing down Nordin Amrabat, meaning he will be suspended for next weekend's clash at Valencia.

The busy Ambrabat was the creator for Leganes' best chance before the break when he released Alexander Szymanowski inside the area, but the Argentine's curling effort was superbly thwarted by Ter Stegen.

The German goalkeeper was called into action again early in the second half when Leganes substitute Claudio Beauvue was too quick for the Barca defense, only to fire straight at Ter Stegen.

In contrast, just as in the first half, Barca was ruthlessly efficient in front of goal to double its lead on the hour mark.

Lionel Messi chipped through a pass that released Alcacer, and after Cuellar parried his first effort, Suarez drilled home the rebound for his second goal of the afternoon.

"Perhaps 0-3 is a bit excessive. They played well enough for the gap between the teams to not be so great," said Barca boss Valverde.

Agence France-presse

(China Daily 11/20/2017 page23)

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