LaLiga leaders Real Madrid moved 13 points clear of rivals Atletico Madrid after a 2-0 El Derbi win at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.
Karim Benzema got them on their way with a fine volley early on, before he was replaced at the interval by Luka Jovic after appearing to suffer a reoccurrence of a recent hamstring injury.
Marco Asensio ensured Atleti’s winless run against Los Blancos stretched to eight games – their longest such run under Diego Simeone – with a second in the 57th minute.
The victory meant Carlo Ancelotti’s men moved eight points clear of second-placed Sevilla, who have a game in hand, while Atleti are well off the pace in fourth.
Los Blancos went ahead in the 16th minute when Benzema superbly volleyed past Jan Oblak from Vinicius Junior’s lofted cross for his 13th league goal of the season.
That was the France international’s third goal in his last four appearances against Atleti in all competitions – just one fewer than in his previous 34 games against them.
Atleti offered little in the way of attacking threat during a tepid first half, yet came close to a leveller 10 minutes before the interval when Antoine Griezmann’s free-kick was pawed away by Thibaut Courtois at full stretch.
Courtois denied half-time substitute Joao Felix and Matheus Cunha early in the second half, before Asensio whipped into Oblak’s bottom-right corner from 15 yards after he was picked out by Vinicius’ pass.
Joao Felix volleyed into Courtois’ face in stoppage time as the defending champions were unable to peg the leaders back.
What does it mean? Madrid keep neighbours out again
Courtois’ six saves was evidence that Madrid did not have it all their own way, but there can be few complaints they were deserving winners.
Ancelotti’s side have now avoided defeat in their last six home LaLiga games against their city rivals, keeping a clean sheet in the last four – the first time in their history they have prevented Atletico scoring in four home games in a row.
Benzema has now scored 36 goals in all competitions in 2021, his best scoring tally in a calendar year in his Madrid career.
His withdrawal at the interval is cause for concern, though, and Ancelotti will hope he is not on the sidelines for too long.
Cunha fails to shine
A surprise inclusion from the start ahead of Luis Suarez, Cunha did not exactly repay Simeone’s faith. The Brazil international had a single shot on target before he was replaced by Renan Lodi on the hour mark.
Los Blancos host Cadiz next Sunday, while Atleti travel to Sevilla a day earlier.