David Beckham came on as a second-half substitute in the Madrid derby last night but could not prevent his side dropping points and losing ground on La Liga leaders Barcelona.
The Real captain Raul last week joined Beckham and Ruud van Nistelrooy in the international wilderness but Real coach Fabio Capello preferred the Spaniard to Beckham on the right, making it four consecutive starts on the bench for the Englishman.
There were no nerves from the away side in the opening exchanges. The winger Martin Petrov, a target for Spurs in the summer, tested the Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas in the first minute with a stinging shot and, after six minutes, they went ahead. Casillas' poor kick was headed by Maniche to Fernando Torres. The Atletico No 9 passed to Maxi Rodriguez and when the Argentine crossed, Mista scored from the edge of the six-yard box.
Atletico continued to press and Perea, Pernia and Mista all picked up bookings as they left players such as Guti, who was fouled for two of the cautions, no time to settle on the ball. Rodriguez and Maniche both missed chances and, with half-time approaching, Real still had not had a shot on target. But then, after 38 minutes, Raul struck.
Guti crossed for the captain, who left his right-wing berth to ghost in front of Atletico's central defenders and volley past Leo Franco. Real found an extra gear but Atletico were still dangerous on the break and Casillas had to save brilliantly from Maniche before the interval.
The pace of the game continued in the second half. Guti blasted over and Torres failed to connect properly with a Rodriguez cross. Jose Antonio Reyes then just failed to get on the end of a superb three-man move inside the Atletico area involving Van Nistelrooy, Raul and Guti.
The Atletico coach Javier Aguire threw on the 18-year-old Argentine Aguero, and if nothing else it changed the visitors' luck, with Sergio Ramos sent off after 63 minutes for raising an arm against Torres. It was the defender's second yellow after being booked just after the restart, for handball.
Beckham was stripped to come on but was told to sit and allow the defender Raul Bravo to cover the defensive hole left by Ramos. Beckham finally came on seven minutes later, replacing Guti. He was immediately in the action, swinging in a corner which Mahamadou Diarra just failed to convert. As the clock ticked down it was 10-man Real who went for it, sending on Ronaldo.
He was chopped down by Pernia but Beckham's free-kick failed to clear the wall. Atletico had the last chance when Aguero was put through by Torres but with only Casillas to beat he lofted his shot over the bar.
Real Madrid (4-2-3-1): Casillas; Mejia, Sergio Ramos, Cannavaro, Roberto Carlos; Emerson, Diarra (Raul Bravo, 70); Reyes, Guti (Beckham, 70), Raul; Van Nistelrooy (Ronaldo, 82) Substitutes not used: Diego Lopez, Robinho, Cassano, Helguera.
Atletico Madrid (4-4-2): Leo Franco; Seitaridis, Pablo, Perea, Pernia; Maxi, Luccin, Maniche, Petrov (Galletti, 76); Mista (Aguero, 60), Torres Substitutes not used: Falcon, A Lopez, Costinha, Galletti, Aguero, Ze Castro, Valera.