Atletico Madrid’s record-setting 1-0 win over Real Madrid brought an emphatic end to their crosstown rival’s 14-year unbeaten league run in their Spanish capital derby on Saturday.
On-form Diego Costa struck in the 11th minute, and not even Gareth Bale in his home debut for Madrid could help them rally.
Atletico’s big win came after Lionel Messi scored before being substituted due to injury to help Barcelona win 2-0 against UD Almeria.
Barcelona and Atletico set club records by staying perfect through seven rounds to start the season, opening up a five-point gap over Madrid.
Messi and Diego Costa have guided their teams to their milestones and lead the league with eight goals each.
Bale, Madrid’s 100 million euro (US$135.17 million) man, went on at the start of the second half, finally playing in front of his new home fans after straining his left thigh while warming up before last weekend’s match.
Yet neither the Welsh winger in 45 minutes nor Cristiano Ronaldo in 90 were able to target Atletico’s goal.
“Atletico was more aggressive and ran more. It wasn’t our day,” Ronaldo said. “We have to understand that we need to improve. I played poorly and many of my teammates did so as well. Our coach had nothing to do with it. It’s our fault.”
Atletico’s last league win against Madrid had come in 1999, and since then they had gone 23 games without a victory.
However, Atletico’s victory over Madrid in the same Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in May last year to claim the Copa del Rey had apparently given them the boost in confidence they needed to break their horrendous streak.
While Atletico squeaked out that cup win in extra time, Diego Simeone’s side simply outplayed Madrid on Saturday, creating many more shots and deploying a swarming defense that kept Madrid in check until the final minutes.
Simeone pumped both fists on the final whistle as he left the dugout, deservedly satisfied with his team’s effort.
Costa, who also scored in last season’s cup final, took the game’s sole goal when Filipe Luis stole the ball from Madrid’s Angel Di Maria and Koke placed a throughball for his goalscorer to coolly fire it in.
As the Brazilian forward soaked up the dismay of Madrid’s supporters, Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti turned away and slapped his leg in frustration.
Messi netted his goal in the 21st with a left-footed shot after combining with Pedro Rodriguez, but he asked to be replaced eight minutes later after hurting a muscle in his right leg.
Adriano sealed the result for Barcelona in the 56th from a pass by Cesc Fabregas while Messi watched from the bench.
Messi’s injury leaves him in doubt for tomorrow’s Champions League match against Celtic, when Atletico play against Porto. Madrid host Copenhagen on Wednesday.
Barcelona said that the Argentina forward would undergo more tests yesterday.
Elsewhere, Jonas scored his third winning goal for Valencia this week to secure a 1-0 victory at home over Rayo Vallecano de Madrid.
Meanwhile, Real Sociedad were held to 1-1 at home by Sevilla before their Champions League game against Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Wednesday.