The New Zealand Herald

Atletico hold derby rivals in scrap for second place


Cristiano Ronaldo scored for the 650th time in his career yesterday but Antoine Griezmann responded with a goal of his own to leave Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid even in a city derby that allowed Barcelona to move closer to the Spanish league title.

Atletico held Real Madrid 1-all at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to keep a four-point lead over their city rivals in the fight for second place in the Spanish league.

The result benefited league leaders Barcelona, who defeated Leganes 3-1 on Sunday with a hat-trick by Lionel Messi to put them 11 points in front of Atletico at the top with seven matches left.

Atletico won La Liga in 2013-14 but have finished third behind either Barcelona or Real Madrid in all other years since 2012-13, the team’s first full season under coach Diego Simeone.

“I’m not happy because we wanted to win, we wanted the three points to try to stay close to Barcelona,” Simeone said. “We needed more. Our goal is always to try to do the best we can against the powerhouse­s of Real Madrid and Barcelona. As an Atletico fan I would have been proud of how we have been competing against them.”

Madrid haven’t finished worse than second since 2014, when they trailed Atletico and Barcelona. Before then, the last time they failed to finish in the top two was in 2003-04, when they were fourth behind Valencia, Barcelona and Deportivo La Coruna.

Ronaldo opened the scoring with his 650th career goal — for clubs and country — early in the second half with a shot from near the far post after a long cross by Gareth Bale.

Griezmann equalised less than five minutes later with a strike from near the penalty spot.

Of Ronaldo’s 650 goals, 446 came with Real Madrid, 118 with Manchester United, 81 with Portugal and five with Sporting Lisbon.

Ronaldo has scored 20 goals in his last 10 matches in all competitio­ns, including his acclaimed bicycle kick in the 3-0 first-leg win at Juventus in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Zidane rested some of his regulars ahead of the return leg against Juventus on Thursday, including midfielder­s Luka Modric and Casemiro. Striker Karim Benzema also started from the bench, replacing Ronaldo in the 64th minute. — AP SPAIN

 ??  ?? Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo

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