Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo bookended strikes from Koke and Gabi as Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid played out an entertaining 2-2 draw.
Carlo Ancelotti made three changes to the starting XI that beat Schalke so convincingly in the Champions League, giving places to Diego Lopez, Fabio Coentrao and Alvaro Arbeloa. Whilst Diego Simeone went with Raul Garcia instead of David Villa.
Los Blancos were looking for the three points that would take them six points clear at the top of the Liga, and they got off to the dream start as Angel Di Maria whipped in a superb cross from the right-hand side for Benzema to tap in after just three minutes.
As expected, the atmosphere was red-hot, and tempers flared almost immediately as Diego Costa went flying into a challenge with Diego Lopez and Alvaro Arbeloa then went down after a flayed arm from Filipe Luis.
There was very little football actually being played between the stoppages and arguments, but when play recommenced, Costa had a penalty appeal waved away after a challenge from Sergio Ramos inside the area.
After the initial heat died down, the home side managed to get themselves back into the game with a nice move on the half hour mark. A run and clever reverse ball from Arda Turan found Koke, and the youngster rifled a shot across goal and into the bottom left-hand corner for the equaliser.
It was an incident-packed half, but not for the right reasons. Pepe and Diego Godin were booked for an off-the-ball altercation, whilst Xabi Alonso received a yellow for a late foul.
But on the stroke of half time, the Rojiblancos went into the lead as a free kick from Mario Suarez went to Gabi, and from all of 35 yards, the captain unleashed a rocket past Diego Lopez.
After the interval, the hosts continued where they had left off, seemingly feeding from the fans energy and noise. And it almost produced another goal on 51 minutes, but Diego Costa’s burst through on goal didn’t have the finish to match.
Los Merengues were struggling with Atleti’s pressing and intensity, but when they had the opportunity to counter-attack they almost took it. A cross from Luka Modric found Benzema at the far post, but the France international’s volley squirmed just wide.
The theatrics weren’t over yet though, as Diego Costa was booked for what the referee perceived was a dive, much to the chagrin of the home team’s bench. Assistant Mono Burgos was sent to the stands for protesting, but on the pitch, the Colchoneros alomost got a third, only for Arda Turan’s header to be saved superbly.
And they were made to rue that missed opportunity with just seven minutes remaining as a cross from Dani Carvajal found Ronaldo, who swept a low drive into the back of the net from 12 yards out.
Atletico Madrid 2-2 Real Madrid
Scorers: Koke 28 (AM), Gabi 45 (AM); Benzema 3 (RM), Ronaldo 83 (RM)
Atletico Madrid: Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godín, Filipe; Mario, Gabi; Koke, Raúl García, Arda (Rodriguez 83); Diego Costa
Real Madrid: Diego López, Arbeloa (Carvajal 71), Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Coentrao (Marcelo 59), Xabi Alonso, Modric, Di María (Isco 72), Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo