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3 things we learned from Real Madrid's narrow win over Atlético Madrid

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A late goal from Chicharito was enough for the Merengues.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Real Madrid are through into the Champions League semifinals after a 1-0 win at home to rivals Atlético Madrid on Wednesday. A last-gasp goal from "Chicharito" Javier Hernández was all that separated the sides over two very tight legs.

The second of them started as cagily as had been expected, with Atléti's exceptional defending preventing Real Madrid from finding the space they needed to make the most of their pace on the break. The only clear-cut opportunity of the first half came from a rare defensive lapse by the visitors on the stroke of halftime, though Jan Oblak got down to make a crucial save to deny Cristiano Ronaldo from point-blank range.

The hosts went close again within minutes of the restart, though Chicharito dinked an effort wide from inside the box after a fine assist by Ronaldo. It marked the beginning of a slightly better spell for Real Madrid, though none of their half-chances initially came to fruition.

However, they were given a big boost with just over 10 minutes left, when Atléti midfielder Arda Turan was sent off for a second bookable offense after a high challenge. The visitors promptly came under increasing pressure, and only a great close-range save by Oblak to deny Chicharito kept them level.

Eventually, Atléti's luck ran out inside the final few minutes of normal time, when Ronaldo cut into the area off the right and allowed Chicharito to tap home from point-blank range. With just 10 men, Atléti had no reply to going behind, and succumbed to a narrow defeat.

3 things

1. Atlético Madrid's defensive prowess was evident again, but the extra man was enough for Real -- It was an excellent first-half defensive display from Diego Simeone's side, but don't make the mistake of thinking that they were totally submissive without the ball. Atléti's counter-pressing saw them apply pressure as soon as they lost possession, cutting Madrid's most dangerous attacking strategy -- the counter-attack -- off at its source. Their defensive play is much more subtle than just packing players behind the ball.

In the second half, Real Madrid upped the tempo and began to stretch their visitors across the field a little better. Their task was made much easier when the excellent Arda Turan was sent off for a second yellow. Eventually, that proved enough for them to squeeze through and score the winning goal with just minutes to spare.

2. Sergio Ramos playing in midfield was odd, but not necessarily bad -- By far the more bizarre selection decision from this match was Carlo Ancelotti playing Sergio Ramos alongside Toni Kroos in Real Madrid's midfield pivot. Former Barcelona star Gaizka Mendieta made the following point during the first half:

There are a handful of reasons why Ancelotti may have made this decision -- Ramos' tenacity in the tackle, Ramos' prowess in the air, Ramos' strength on both offensive and defensive set-pieces. However, for large parts of the game, when Atléti were camped in their own half, Ramos was essentially a player they could ignore. Whatever Ancelotti's reason, Ramos didn't really do much on the ball -- and certainly less than Sami Khedira would have.

Then again, he did generally stay pretty deep in the defensive phase, and Atléti's lack of success on the counter-attack would no doubt have pleased Ancelotti. Sacrificing a creative player for Madrid's build-up play was clearly a tradeoff the Italian was willing to make -- and one that, in the end, paid off.

3. Jan Oblak looks seriously good -- The return of Thibaut Courtois to Chelsea in the summer was a worry for Atlético Madrid, though Jan Oblak's recent excellent form has allayed all fears. The Slovenian's handling and reactions were outstanding throughout this match, and at just 22 years old, he's looking set for a long and successful career. There was little he could have done to prevent Chicharito's goal.