Real Madrid beat Atletico to return to La Liga top spot in derby marred by racist chants

Goals from Rodrygo and Valverde extend perfect start to season as Vinicius subjected to racist abuse

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Real Madrid defeated city rivals Atletico Madrid 2-1 at the Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday night to return to the top of La Liga but it was a match marred by racist chants before and during the game.

Rodrygo and Federico Valverde gave the champions a two-goal lead in the first half before Mario Hermoso pulled one back for the hosts in the 83rd minute, only to get sent off in injury time.

Carlo Ancelotti's side have started their title defence in perfect fashion, with a 100 per cent record from six games. This victory took Real two points above Barcelona, who had leapfrogged them into first on Saturday.

But the game was marred by racist chants aimed at Real Madrid's Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior outside the stadium before the game, sparked by criticism of his dancing goal celebrations and a subsequent debate over whether that criticism was racist.

Fans also threw objects at Vinicius after a Real goal and aimed racist chants at him in the closing stages.

After another Brazilian, Rodrygo, broke the deadlock in the 18th minute, he danced in celebration with Vinicius, to the chagrin of Atletico's enraged supporters. Some threw objects, including lighters, at the duo.

"Derbies are always important but today was a bit different for what happened during the week," said Rodrygo. "We responded on the pitch, and I only talk for myself. I am very happy to play well and to score another goal."

Madrid were missing the injured Karim Benzema while the hosts picked Antoine Griezmann in the starting line-up for the first time this season, and they were on top in the opening stages.

Spurred on by the rowdy atmosphere, Diego Simeone's side pressed high up the pitch and put Real on the back foot, with Felipe heading over and Dani Carvajal deflecting a Yannick Carrasco shot into the side netting.

Geoffrey Kondogbia launched an effort at goal which missed narrowly, but with Atletico dominant, Madrid landed a sucker-punch.

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti was full of praise for his two goalscorers, Rodrygo and Federico Valverde. Reuters

Aurelien Tchouameni scooped a delightful pass over the defence and Rodrygo smartly dispatched it past goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

Atletico tried to fight back, with a fierce drive from Griezmann flying past the post and Thibault Courtois denying Carrasco, before Madrid struck another killer blow.

Vinicius, persistently whistled by Atletico fans, combined with Luka Modric before hitting the post and Valverde followed up to slam into the net from close range after 36 minutes.

The Uruguayan has four goals and two assists in seven games across all competitions, cementing himself as an essential presence on the right flank for Ancelotti.

"(Valverde) and Rodrygo are very special players, because they are what the modern footballer has to be," said Ancelotti. "They can play in various positions, they have something that stands out, technique, physique, we are delighted with them."

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone said Real Madrid are playing 'marvellous' football. AFP

Real Madrid have now won all nine matches they have played this season across all competitions.

They took the sting out of the game in the second half by trying to keep the ball. Atletico midfielder Koke was booked for a wild hack at Rodrygo. It was Koke's 553rd game for the club, equalling the all-time record set by Adelardo, who retired in 1976, but it was one to forget.

Hermoso halved the deficit when Courtois flailed at a corner and the defender finished with his shoulder into the empty net in the 83rd minute, but Atletico could not complete an unlikely comeback.

"This Real Madrid reminds me of the team that we had, with Diego Costa," noted Simeone. "When there is that forcefulness, football is marvellous."

Further racist chanting was aimed at Vinicius from some home fans, and Hermoso was sent off in stoppage time for battling with Dani Ceballos at a corner to earn a second yellow card.

Updated: September 19, 2022, 4:21 AM