Cristiano Ronaldo left the pitch with a supporter trying to hug him, Gareth Bale left it knowing that once again the fingers of blame will be pointing at him after his first half miss after Diego Godin’s slip.
On a night when Atletico Madrid’s defence once again showed why it is one of the toughest to break down in Europe all three Real Madrid forwards were unable to get the better of their rivals. Bale was often the brightest of Real’s front three but his miss was still the clearest.
Bale will not find too much consolation in the fact that he linked well with Ronaldo in the first half. With Atletico Madrid’s left-back position still bearing a Filipe Luis-shaped hole, Bale attacked at will and he looked for Ronaldo with his crosses as the Portuguese found himself in centre-forward territory regularly throughout the first 45 minutes.
There seems little doubt the man who is fast approaching Real’s all-time goals record will finish his playing days as a central striker and he came into this game with a scoring rate of a goal every 74 minutes and seven goals in his last three matches.
Bale had scored five in his last four games. Ronaldo had hit 15 in his 20 Madrid derbies; Bale had only netted one goal against Atletico, but what a goal it was – the strike that won the Champions League final. But neither man could find the finish to give Real a vital away goal.
Both Bale and Ronaldo scored in extra-time in Lisbon and only an incredible performance from Jan Oblak prevented them from doing so in the first half.
Bale had embraced his pal Luka Modric just before kick-off and the Croatian midfielder did his best to feed him at every opportunity.
When free-kicks came Real’s way they were almost all taken by Ronaldo, although Bale was allowed to run over one – and in fairness to Ronaldo all the set-pieces were awarded on Ronaldo’s favoured left-side of the penalty area.
In the second half as Real’s momentum faded so did their deadly duo’s influence on the game.
Bale apologised to Ronaldo after one misplaced pass. He probably shouldn’t have because he would have received the ball sooner if Ronaldo had not intercepted it before he reached him.
Their understanding on the pitch still looks like it needs some working on but they will remain the biggest threat to Atletico in a week’s time.