MADRID, Spain, May 9 – Atletico Madrid won a La Liga derby against Real Madrid for the first time in six years on Sunday as a 1-0 victory left Diego Simeone’s side on course to qualify for the Champions League .
Yannick Carrasco’s first-half penalty proved enough at the Wanda Metropolitano against a heavily weakened Real Madrid, who took the opportunity to spin after their incredible Champions League comeback against Manchester City on Wednesday.
With Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Thibaut Courtois among those on the bench already crowned, Atletico took advantage, even though they missed a series of chances which made the competition much more uncomfortable than it should have been. being.
Atletico are in fourth place, six points ahead of fifth-placed Real Betis with three games to play. Their best head-to-head record against Betis means they will be guaranteed to finish in the top four if Betis fail to win in Valencia on Tuesday.
If Betis beat Valencia, Atletico can secure their place by winning Elche on Wednesday.
“It’s very important to qualify and we need to get one more win in three games to achieve that,” said Atletico captain Koke. “If we work like this, we will get there.”
Sevilla’s place also looks all but sealed after a 1-1 draw at Villarreal earlier on Sunday gave them a seven-point cushion over Betis.
Atletico hadn’t beaten Real Madrid in La Liga since 2016 and not at home since 2015, while their last eight games in all competitions against their city rivals had yielded two goals and no wins.
Ending this run will certainly bring great satisfaction to Atletico fans and players, but the biggest relief will be Champions League qualification, which has been in doubt for the duration of what has been a campaign. inconsistent and disappointing.
Carlo Ancelotti made a series of changes to his starting line-up as only Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Eder Militao remained from the squad that claimed the sensational victory over City.
It meant rare starts for the likes of Luka Jovic up front, Eduardo Camavinga in midfield and Jesus Vallejo at the back while Ukraine’s Andriy Lunin made his first league appearance of the season in goal.
Lunin did nothing wrong but no one stood out, with Camavinga in a bad mood and Jovic substituted in the second half.
“We rested some players, we avoided problems and we gave minutes to those who had less,” Ancelotti said. “It will be like that for the next matches.”
Atletico’s greatest intensity showed in the first half as Angel Correa fired an early shot after a poor pass from Camavinga allowed Geoffrey Kondogbia to rob Kroos before Carrasco snuck in but don’t pass by.
The goal came from another misplaced pass, this time from Marco Asensio in midfield, and as Matheus Cunha charged on goal he was squeezed out between Vallejo and Militao.
Atletico wanted a penalty and while the referee initially dismissed appeals, he changed his mind after viewing the replay, with Vallejo found guilty. Carrasco slammed the kick.
Kroos shot wide and then Jovic’s only contribution was to hit Jan Oblak when the ball spilled over him after Rodrygo ran behind.
Without the second goal, the tension grew and as each new opportunity presented itself, the feeling that Real Madrid could capitalize grew.
Carrasco fired in after Nacho Fernandez gave the ball away and then another error from Camavinga gave Cunha a chance but his effort was saved.
Vinicius Junior, Modric and Fede Valverde all came on for the visitors but the pattern continued as Antoine Griezmann trailed wide and then Carrasco broke through, only to raze the outside of the post.
In the final 10 minutes, Valverde and Vinicius both tested Oblak, who then had to push Asensio’s sparkling free-kick away from the post. Nacho headed Vinicius’ cross from six yards out but Atletico held on.
Sevilla also moved one step closer to La Liga’s top four after Jules Kounde’s 96th-minute equalizer snatched a 1-1 draw at Villarreal.
Villarreal thought they had won it at La Ceramica when Giovani Lo Celso scored four minutes from regulation time, but Sevilla netted a spectacular equalizer to bolster their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League next season.
After their superb run to the Champions League semi-finals, Villarreal are making a late push for next season’s Europa League but Kounde’s strike means they are three points behind Real Sociedad in sixth.