x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Ancelotti has no complaints in Real Madrid defeat

Gareth Bale proves ineffective as Real Madrid lose 1-0 to derby rivals Atletico.

It took just 11 minutes for Atletico's Diego Costa to score the only goal of the Madrid derby. Juan Medina / Reuters
It took just 11 minutes for Atletico's Diego Costa to score the only goal of the Madrid derby. Juan Medina / Reuters

MADRID // Carlo Ancelotti, the Real Madrid manager, conceded Atletico Madrid were deserving victors after they handed him his first defeat in charge of Los Blancos with a 1-0 success at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday night.

Gareth Bale finally made his home debut for Madrid as a second-half substitute, but Diego Costa was the star of the show as he scored the only goal of the game after just 11 minutes to maintain Atletico’s 100 per cent start to the season.

And despite Diego Simeone’s men sitting back and defending their lead, Ancelotti accepted they still had the better chances to score a second on the counter-attack.

“Atletico Madrid deserved to win. They were very defensive but they scored a goal on the counter-attack,” he told a news conference.

“They showed they are a very organised team with a lot of quality.”

It was the fourth time in seven league games that Madrid had fallen behind early on in the game and Ancelotti is determined that they have to start games better and inject more speed into their play.

“I think we had the same problem as in the other games. Our build-up play is slow and when the ball arrives further up the pitch there are no spaces to look for a positive solution.

“When you play against a team with good defensive organisation it is more difficult and the goal made things even harder for us.

“We started very well in pre-season but over the past week we have had two very bad games. We need to have better attitude and concentration.

“It is not an easy moment because losing at home is never good, but it is obvious that we need to play more quickly and fix the problem.”

Victory for Atletico sealed their best ever start to a league campaign with seven consecutive victories.

Los Rojiblancos are currently tied at the top of the table with Barcelona on 21 points, five clear of their city rivals in third.

However, Diego Simeone, the Atletico manager, still believes that Madrid and Barcelona’s strength in depth throughout the course of the season will prove too much for Atleti to compete with.

“In the long-term throughout 38 games, the financial power and individual quality that Barcelona and Real Madrid have is superior to us.

“We have our own strengths and we try to give everything we have in every match.

“We are working well and at the moment for are being rewarded for that work as a team.”

Earlier, Bale started on the bench before being called upon by Carlo Ancelotti at half-time to turn things in Madrid’s favour, but he was not able to impact the game greatly.

After a cagey opening 10 minutes, the Madrid derby burst into life when Koke played Costa in behind the home defence and the Brazilian slotted home his eighth goal in seven league games.

Even the goal though could not shake Madrid out of their early malaise and it took until the 20th minute for Thibaut Courtois to be forced into a save as he palmed Karim Benzema’s flicked header behind.

The French striker had a much clearer headed opportunity from another Angel di Maria pass six minutes later but this time failed to even find the target.

And it was Atletico who should have doubled their tally before half-time on more than one occasion.

Firstly, Tiago squandered a glorious chance as he headed over when completely unmarked from Koke’s header before Diego Lopez made a fine save to deny Gabi and then Costa just could not bundle home the rebound as Real struggled to cope with another corner.

Ancelotti reacted to his side’s flat first-half display at half-time as he introduced both Bale and Luka Modric with Asier Illarramendi and Di Maria making way.

However, Lopez again had to keep Madrid in the game with an excellent low block as Costa raced clear on goal 15 minutes into the second period.

Bale forced Courtois into his first stop after the break with a low drive which the Belgian handled confidently.

Cristiano Ronaldo then fired a free-kick wastefully over the bar and saw another effort from distance spilled by Courtois.

Koke was desperately unlucky not to seal the three points for Atletico 10 minutes from time when his curling effort from the edge of the area came back off the crossbar.

And Courtois had to come to Atletico’s rescue moments later to beat away Alvaro Morata’s acrobatic effort.

Morata also fired into the side netting from a narrow angle as the game entered stoppage time but Atletico held on to register their best ever league start.