La Liga

March 28, 2010

Full-time

Real Madrid

3 - 2

Atlético Madrid

La Liga

20:00 BST, March 28, 2010

Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid

Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco

Higuain nets vital winner

Scoring Summary

Real Madrid Atlético Madrid
Xabi Alonso (49')José Antonio Reyes (10')
Álvaro Arbeloa (55')Diego Forlán (pen 68')
Gonzalo Higuaín (62') 

Real Madrid returned to the top of the Primera Division after hitting back from a half-time deficit to continue their long-standing domination of local rivals Atletico.

Real, who have not lost to Atletico since 1999, looked in some trouble as they trailed 1-0 at the break following Jose Antonio Reyes' early opener.

However, three quickfire goals at the start of the second period from Xabi Alonso, Alvaro Arbeloa and Gonzalo Higuain put Real in control, and they held on for the points despite Diego Forlan reducing the deficit from the penalty spot.

The 3-2 victory, which matched Real's triumph from the Vicente Calderon earlier this season, was the 11th on the trot in La Liga for Manuel Pellegrini's men and they move back above Barcelona, who beat Real Mallorca last night.

Real have made a habit of scoring early goals against Atletico in recent games, netting in the opening five minutes of three of the last four encounters, but this time it was the Rojiblancos who enjoyed a flying start.

There were just 10 minutes on the clock when Tiago and Sergio Aguero fed the ball along the edge of the home area to former Real winger Reyes, who took his time before curling a low shot past Iker Casillas and into the far corner.

That was a huge blow for Real and it took them until almost half an hour into the match to finally start causing Atletico some serious problems.

Cristiano Ronaldo went close with 25-yard piledriver before Marcelo brought a fine one-handed save out of David De Gea with an acrobatic effort.

Then from the resulting corner Higuain looked certain to score but, after rounding De Gea, his close-range shot was crucially blocked by Tiago.

That was a huge let-off for Atletico, and they received another on the stroke of half-time when an unmarked Ronaldo contrived to send a diving header wide from seven yards out.

Real would have been far from happy with their first half display, but they at least managed to build up some momentum to take into the second half.

And there was only one team in it at the start of the second period, with Real turning the game on its head with three goals in 13 minutes.

Alonso brought the hosts level with an almost identical goal to the one he scored against Sporting here two weeks ago, when Real again had to come from a goal down before recording a 3-1 win.

Esteban Granero's outswinging corner was headed down by Raul Albiol and the unmarked Alonso slotted home at the far post.

Alonso was also heavily involved six minutes later as Real netted a superb goal to take the lead.

The Spain midfielder spotted Arbeloa's run down the right and picked out his former Liverpool team-mate with a fantastic 40-yard pass.

Arbeloa still had work to do, but he finished in style, pulling the pass down on his chest, turning Alvaro Dominguez inside out and coolly finishing past De Gea.

Atletico had an opportunity to draw level almost immediately, but Aguero's header was too close to Casillas, and five minutes after that Higuain made it 3-1.

The Argentinian almost netted in the 59th minute when his glancing header from Rafael Van der Vaart's free-kick hit the crossbar, but he was not to denied moments later following an Atletico defensive mistake.

Tiago attempted to play the ball out from the edge of his box, but his pass hit team-mate Paulo Assuncao before rebounding perfectly for Higuain, who finished past De Gea.

That was Higuain's 23rd league goal of the season and it really should have wrapped the match up for dominant Real, but Atletico ensured the hosts faced nervy finale by pulling a goal back in the 68th minute.

Alonso handled the ball as he leaped to clear Simao Sabrosa's corner, and from the resulting penalty Forlan fired past Casillas.

However, Atletico created little to worry Casillas in the closing stages as Real - who face Barca in their next home match - took the points.