Benitez denies Real Madrid were overly defensive

MADRID • Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez dismissed claims his side had paid for an overly defensive approach as Luciano Vietto's late equaliser handed Atletico Madrid a 1-1 draw in Spain's capital football derby on Sunday.

Benitez's men went in front early on through Karim Benzema, but attempted to sit on their lead and were caught out seven minutes from time when Vietto bundled home his first goal for Atletico from close range.

The Argentinian's strike was just the second goal Real have conceded in nine games under Benitez.

But they were again thankful to goalkeeper Keylor Navas as he saved Antoine Griezmann's first-half penalty and made a brilliant stop from Jackson Martinez in stoppage time.

"In the first half we were dominant and controlled the game that we knew they wanted to play," said Benitez.

"In the second half they played with more intensity, but we had eight chances to counter but weren't accurate with the final or penultimate pass."

Real have now gone six consecutive matches without beating their neighbours. The last time they faced such a winless spell was almost 70 years ago.

Victory would have taken Real to the top of the table, but they failed to take advantage of Barcelona's defeat by Sevilla on Saturday to remain a point behind surprise leaders Villarreal, who also lost on Sunday at Levante.

Barca are significantly depleted by a raft of injuries to the likes of Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta as well as the consequences of a one-year ban on registering new players.

Benitez insisted he was not obsessed with building a significant lead on the Catalan side before the two clash on Nov 21.

"We are only interested in ourselves and winning every game," he added.

Despite his side's late comeback, Atletico manager Diego Simeone lamented not having claimed a third consecutive derby win over Real in the league as his side rebounded from back-to-back defeats by Villarreal and Benfica.

"In the second half we had a lot more chances. We equalised and then their 'keeper made a great save at the end," said Simeone.

"The sensation is that we have lost two points and that we were very close to winning a game that on chances we deserved to win."

Elsewhere, the pressure on Valencia manager Nuno Espirito Santo increased as his side blew a 1-0 lead to lose 3-1 at Athletic Bilbao.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2015, with the headline 'Benitez denies Real Madrid were overly defensive'. Print Edition | Subscribe