Atlético’s Marcos Llorente heads a late equalizer to end Real Madrid’s title hopes

<span>Atléticos <a class=Marcos Llorente celebrates after scoring the equalizer in the 93rd minute against Real Madridwhich had been in the lead since the 20th minute.Photo: Bernat Armangué/AP” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/ 17214968a413″ data-src= “–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/ 4968a413″/>

The Madrid trilogy concluded with a twist in the final scene. Three derbies in three weeks on three different stages and in three competitions saw Real lift the Super Cup, Atlético triumph in the Copa del Rey and reaffirm Real’s league superiority, seemingly returning the empire to power used to be. But in the 93rd minute, Marcos Llorente, the son, grandson, nephew and great-nephew of men who made history in white, headed in the goal that gave their great rivals a dramatic late equalizer, raising his arms to the sky. ran to the corner, the striped shirts chasing him.

Episodes I and II required additional time to find a winner; Episode III had none and so it had been a battle, but no one was defeated. The first two episodes had delivered fourteen goals, wild epic nights, 120 minutes of drama and tension, ending 4-2 and 5-3; the last of them had only two. And if the draw was enough to put Carlo Ancelotti’s side two points clear at the top of the table, 10 ahead of Atlético, it was the 100 supporters of Diego Simeone’s side high up in a small corner of the north stand sat and feasted. the end.

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Just when it seemed to be over, Real’s hugely impressive midfield had imposed itself, Memphis Depay tapped the ball through and there was Llorente to make it 1-1, Madrid’s early lead gone and the story turned upside down . It seemed like it was about an unlikely hero: Brahim Díaz, the man who scored in Saudi Arabia by outrunning Jan Oblak and bending into an open net, had opened the scoring here and grabbed the winner, while he didn’t expect. to play at all. It wasn’t until minutes before kickoff that he found out he was on the team.

Vinícius Jr. had felt pain in his neck during the warm-up and withdrew. There were only four minutes until kick-off when Bernabéu Tannoy announced that Joselu had taken the Brazilian’s starting spot, but when the team came out it was actually Díaz who was there. By the time Vinícius took the bench, hoping the painkillers he had taken would allow him to play a role, his replacement had already fired into Atlético’s goal as Madrid took the lead.

That effort from Díaz, after three minutes, was not even their first attempt on goal. Jude Bellingham had slipped the ball through Mario Hermoso’s legs and burst in to hit the side netting a minute earlier, and a few minutes later Eduardo Camavinga cut over the crossbar. Atlético were deep in their own territory, overrun: at this stage they had not yet had possession in Madrid’s half and their best player, Antoine Griezmann, had not yet had it all.

The first time he did so, he produced a beautiful pass to play in Álvaro Morata, but Andriy Lunin made a sharp save with his right hand. The next time he did that, he was taken out. It looked like Atlético had clawed their way through that early pressure. And yet as soon as they had come to an agreement, they had given in. Two deflected passes from Díaz and then Lucas Vázquez – the first from Saúl, the second from Koke – accidentally became the perfect setup for Díaz, leaving one on one on the edge of the six-yard box, where he controlled and lifted the shot past Oblak .

A beautiful inswinging cross from Rodrigo Riquelme almost set up Axel Witsel for a quick equalizer, but Lunin leapt behind him, his body stretched into a star, and pushed him wide. From the corner, Stefan Savic’s glancing header somehow slid past the far post from three yards.

This turned out to be quite fun. Rodrygo shot wide after a substitution with Díaz and Vázquez, who then had the next chance. Vázquez was allowed to come forward and the Atlético defense expected him to pull the ball over. Ultimately he opted for a shot that ended up in the side netting.

At the other end, Llorente ensured that Saúl headed just wide. And then Hermoso almost sneaked in at the far post, where Rodrigo de Paul’s brilliant ball fell, but Rodrygo had followed him all the way. Atlético thought they had equalized at the start of the second half when Savic headed in from a corner kick by Griezmann. However, Saúl was on the line in front of the keeper and was in an offside position.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s stunning late goal deserved Naples a welcome 2-1 home win over wrestling Veronawho had taken the lead with less than 20 minutes to play.

Visiting keeper Lorenzo Montipo produced two early saves to deny Kvaratskhelia, then also denied Pasquale Mazzocchi and Jesper Lindstrom after Diego Coppola deflected Tomas Suslov’s free-kick to give Verona the lead.

Montipo was starting to look unbeatable but Cyril Ngonge, who joined Napoli from Verona in January, came off the bench and scored after Lindstrom’s pass. With three minutes to go, Kvaratskhelia [pictured]hit a curling shot from distance past Montipo to earn all three points.

Atalanta boosted their hopes of winning the race for fourth place with a 3-1 home win Lazio. Charles De Ketelaere scored twice, including one from the penalty spot, after Mario Pasalic’s opener. Ciro Immobile scored a late penalty but the visitors dropped to ninth place.

In Germany, RB Leipzig ended their losing Bundesliga run with a 2–0 home win Union Berlin. Goals from Loïs Openda and Benjamin Sesko in each half proved enough for the hosts, while Union saw Christopher Tremmell sent off late in the match.

In Ligue 1, Lille benefited from a goalless draw between Brest And NiceAnd Monaco‘s tie with Le Havrewhich resulted in a 4-0 home win Clermont That increases their hopes of a place in the Champions League.

Lyon allayed their relegation fears with a crucial 1-0 home win Marseille. Alexandre Lacazette scored the only goal, turning the ball in the 37th minute of the match while lying on the ground.

In Spain, Celta Vigo three points clear of the relegation zone with a 3-0 win over Osasunawhile it was done Villarreal 0-0 Cadiz And Real Betis 1-1 Getafe.

Atlético looked for a way back, but the chances were small. The best actually came at the other end, as the match progressed and the four players in Madrid’s midfield imposed themselves. Bellingham was appealing for a penalty when he was ambushed by Savic; a break led by Fede Valverde, who burst through the right, offered Rodrygo the chance to end it, but he shot straight at Oblak; and Díaz conjured a moment of magic, feet flashing, ball disappearing as he stopped, drawing Hermoso in, nutmegging him, then turning to Witsel and bending his shot just wide.

He was withdrawn immediately afterwards, while the Bernabéu gave an ovation. This was his night, or so they thought. Instead, he had to sit on the bench and watch as the Madrid trilogy took its final turn.

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