All square in thrilling Madrid derby

Cristiano Ronaldo strikes a late equaliser in a fiercely contested draw between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

    Real have 64 points, with Atletico second on 61 and Barcalona in third position on 60 [AFP]
    Real have 64 points, with Atletico second on 61 and Barcalona in third position on 60 [AFP]

    Cristiano Ronaldo struck eight minutes from time to rescue a point for Real Madrid in a 2-2 draw away to city rivals Atletico in a typically fiery La Liga derby.

    Atletico had fought back to lead 2-1 and were closing in on a first home win against Real in nearly 15 years before Ronaldo pounced on a loose ball and fired into the corner to maintain Real's three-point advantage over their neighbours at the top.

    It was the Portugal forward's 23rd goal of the campaign and extended Real's unbeaten run to 28 matches, stretching back to a 2-1 reverse away to champions Barcelona at the end of October.

    Real started the game brightly and were ahead after only three minutes when Karim Benzema stole in unmarked and poked a cross from Angel Di Maria past Thibaut Courtois from close range.

    Benzema and Ronaldo, the league's leading scorer, each tested Courtois again before clever work from Atletico's Turkish playmaker Arda Turan led to the equaliser in the 28th minute.

    Barcelona on song

    After twisting and turning on the edge of the Real penalty area, Arda threaded a pass through to Koke and his powerful low shot flew into the corner past Diego Lopez.

    Captain Gabi scored the best goal of the game moments before halftime to put the home side ahead, with a 30-metre screamer that flew past Lopez.

    Real gradually turned the screw as Atletico tired in the second half and it was little surprise when a defensive lapse led to Ronaldo's late equaliser.

    Elsewhere, Lionel Messi scored a sublime goal as Barcelona overcame lowly Almeria to reclaim second spot in La Liga and move one point behind leaders Real Madrid.

    Messi scored with a delightful curling 25-yard free-kick to make it 2-0 after Alexis Sanchez had opened the scoring.

    But Barca's recent defensive problems again surfaced when Angel Trujillo took advantage of poor marking to score.

    Carles Puyol's made it 3-1 after Messi's header came back off the bar before Xavi thumped home the fourth.

    The result marked a return to winning ways for Gerardo Martino's reigning champions after a surprise 3-1 defeat at Real Sociedad allowed Real Madrid to open up a three-point lead at the summit.


    SOURCE: Reuters


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