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Missed opportunity

Did Real fight their way back into the Madrid derby or did Atletico hand the initiative to their rivals?

Last Updated: 03/03/14 at 12:21 Post Comment

Costa: cut a forlorn figure at times against Real, says Toshack

Costa: cut a forlorn figure at times against Real, says Toshack

A bit of both, says John Toshack, who watch the Spanish humdinger unfold in the Sky Sports studio on Sunday afternoon.

A 2-2 draw leaves table-topping Real three points ahead of their city rivals in the pursuit for the La Liga crown, and Toshack was impressed by the way his former side battled from 2-1 down at the Vicente Calderon.

The former Real striker pinpointed Carlo Ancelotti's second-half alterations as the premier reason his team - who took the lead, through Karim Benzema, after just three minutes - netted a late leveller.

But Toshack feels the hosts retreated too far whilst trying to ensure victory and paid the price when Cristiano Ronaldo rifled in after 82 minutes to take Real's unbeaten run to 28 matches.

"I thought the changes Ancelotti made in the second half freshened Real up a little bit, with the full-backs, Dani Carvahal and Marcelo, as well as Isco, giving them something a little bit different," said Toshack.

Participating

"But Atletico left [striker] Diego Costa too far up the field on his own when they were looking to hold on and invited Real on, and when you do that you can really suffer.

"There were shots of Costa 40-50 yards away from his team-mates and you cannot afford to drop off like that against Ronaldos and Bales, who, even when they look like they aren't participating, are deadly when you give them half a chance."

However, Sky Sports expert Guillem Balague says Atletico should be given credit for their display, considering their poor recent record against their neighbours.

And the Revista regular reckons Diego Simeone's charges are more than capable of sustaining their push for Spanish football's top honour.

"Atletico lost 5-0 on aggregate to Real in the Copa del Rey and after going a goal down early in this game they could have thought: 'This isn't our night', especially considering they haven't beaten Real in their own stadium since 1998," said Balague.

"But they had the mentality to come back and the aggression to win balls early - and they played well until they ran out of breath at the end.

"The title race is far from decided and Atletico are still in it."

Catch up on all the weekend's La Liga goals by tuning into Revista, 7pm, Tuesday, Sky Sports 1.

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