Derby results are usually somewhat unpredictable, but not in Madrid. Atletico Madrid have now not beaten their more illustrious rivals for 11 years, and, on Saturday night, Real Madrid made it seven wins from their past eight visits in the south side of the capital. In spite of all the hostilities bestowed on the detested whites, which included a stone thrown at their coach Manuel Pellegrino, Real raced into a 3-0 lead in a feisty match which saw seven yellow cards and one red. Despite their star-studded squad, Atletico have won just one of their first 10 league games and are facing a relegation fight rather than a battle to finish in the top four like last season.
Kaka put second-placed Real ahead after five minutes when his fine strike from outside the box beat Asenjo. The new Atletico coach, Quique Sanchez Flores, has supposedly given his side a fresh belief. That much was evident in a 2-2 Champions League draw against Chelsea last week, but against their neighbours it was non-existent in the first half. Real dominated the midfield and defenders Sergio Ramos and Pepe both came close to making it two. Moved to a more attacking role from the left back role where he was often circumspect, Real's best player in recent weeks has been the Brazilian Marcelo. The 21-year-old is already in his fourth season at the Bernabéu and he put his side two up after 25 minutes after combining with Ramos and Karim Benzema.
As usual, Real were dominant in the Calderon, more so when Gonzalo Higuain made it three after 63 minutes. Atletico had looked more spirited after the break until a dreadful defensive lapse from Luis Perea allowed the Argentine to steal the ball and shoot past Sergio Asenjo to the fury of the home crowd. The 3,000 travelling fans celebrated with abandon, but as they sang and jeered their reviled neighbours, Real started to falter. Ramos was dismissed for bringing down Sergio Aguero when through on goal in the 65th minute.
But as Pellegrini rubbed his face after being hit by a stone, 10 men Real wilted under Atletico pressure. Diego Forlan pulled a goal back in the 79th minute and Aguero raised spirits further with a second three minutes later. Roared on by 50,000 primal screams, Aguero almost equalised in the final minute but saw his effort saved by Iker Casillas. "The key to our victory was that we went for it from the start," said Pellegrini. "We controlled the game until Ramos was sent off. Atletico have dangerous players and the final minutes were very difficult for us, but that didn't reflect our superiority during the rest of the game.
"The team are adapting to a new dynamic and while there is still much to improve on, we are earning good results." Madrid remain second, a point behind Barcelona, who beat Mallorca 4-2 at Camp Nou to maintain their 100 per cent home record in the league. Pedro scored two first-half goals and Thierry Henry netted his first of the season as Barca, who started with Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Daniel Alves on the bench, led 3-1 at the break. An 87th-minute Messi penalty made it four, before Seydou Keita turned the ball into his own goal in injury time for the Mallorcans' second.
"It was an ugly match," said the Barca coach Pep Guardiola. "It can rain or be cold but wind is the worst. It wasn't one of our best matches, but we took three points so I am satisfied." Also on Saturday night, Deportivo La Coruna moved up to fourth with a 2-0 win at Getafe, while Malaga came from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Tenerife. firstname.lastname@example.org