Real Madrid boosted their LaLiga title bid with a 3-1 victory to leapfrog arch-rivals Atletico into second place in the table after a thrilling Madrid derby at the Wanda Metropolitano.
The last four league encounters had seen four draws with just four goals scored, but both sides threw caution to the wind with three goals in an entertaining opening 45 minutes.
Casemiro gave the visitors the lead with an overhead kick in the 16th minute. Antoine Griezmann levelled calmly levelled nine minutes later but captain Sergio Ramos fired Real into a half-time lead from the penalty spot.
Los Blancos graduate Alvaro Morata almost marked his home debut for Atleti with a wonderful goal, but it was ruled out by the video assistant referee before Gareth Bale wrapped up the points with his 100th Real Madrid goal in a feisty match which finished with nine yellow cards and Thomas Partey dismissed.
There was no love lost for former Atletico loanee Thibaut Courtois, who helped Diego Simeone’s side to their first league title in 18 years during the 2014-15 season, as the Real goalkeeper was surrounded by toy rats thrown by the home fans.
The hosts’ high press forced an early mistake by young Real winger Vinicius to set up a quick counter which saw Griezmann find Partey, who strode into the penalty area, but the midfielder was well off target.
However, It was the visitors who broke the deadlock in the 16th minute when Sergio Ramos outjumped four Atleti defenders to connect with Toni Kroos’ corner, which fell in the path of Casemiro to emphatically finish.
Vinicius was at fault when he was easily dispossessed by Santiago Arias and the full-back played a neat through-ball to set Griezmann free of the Real defence before calmly threading through Courtois’ legs for the equaliser, only to see the offside flag go up.
However, after a lengthy VAR review, the stadium erupted in celebration as referee Javier Fernandez overturned the decision to confirm the Frenchman’s sixth Madrid derby goal.
But the visitors were back in front when Vinicius was brought down by Arias for a penalty – although initial contact looked outside the area – which was converted by Ramos in the 43rd minute. He celebrated by kissing the Real badge.
Morata blazed well wide with the first chance of the second period before Griezmann’s effort was dragged just wide moments later as they searched for another equaliser.
And the hosts thought they got just that when Morata found the back of the net in the 54th minute with superb goal, bringing the ball down with a brilliant touch from Diego Godin’s long pass before lifting over the onrushing Courtois, but VAR correctly ruled out the effort for offside.
Courtois produced a fine save to deny Jose Gimenez in the 61st minute, but a rapid counter saw Real open up a two-goal advantage when Luka Modric found Bale in the penalty area to fire into the far corner from a tight angle with 16 minutes left.
Atletico were down to 10 men when Partey received his second yellow card for a late challenge on Kroos with 10 minutes remaining as Los Blancos moved five points behind leaders Barcelona.