Atletico denied derby victory by late Benzema equaliser

Atletico Madrid squandered the chance to inflict a heavy blow on Real Madrid’s La Liga title hopes on Sunday as Karim Benzema’s late equaliser earned the champions a 1-1 draw and kept them in the race at the top.

Atletico’s lead is still considerable and they can extend it to eight points with 12 matches left if they win their game in hand at home to Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday night.

Yet at full-time, it was Real Madrid’s players who had smiles on their faces, while Suarez left the pitch shaking his head, with Atletico only too aware this was a huge opportunity missed.

“It depends which way you look at it,” said Diego Simeone. “In the negative, they equalised in the last minute, or the positive, that we played very well in general, that we absolutely controlled the first half, and dominated the second.”

The title race remains very much in Atletico’s favour but still up for grabs, especially for Barcelona, who were perhaps the biggest beneficiaries of this result.

Barca, whose members were voting in the club’s new president on Sunday, now sit three points behind Atletico, having played a game more. They also face Simeone’s side at Camp Nou in May.

By then, Real were behind, the opening goal coming from a familiar combination down the right. Trippier played out from deep into the path of the excellent Marcos Llorente, who nipped the ball away from the diving Nacho Fernandez.

A poked pass behind Raphael Varane found Suarez and he flicked a superb finish with the outside of his foot around goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and into the far corner.

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