Real Madrid was forced to settle for a point as Atletico Madrid held Los Blancos to a 1-1 draw during the Madrid derby.
Real Madrid was forced to settle for a point as Atletico Madrid held Los Blancos to a 1-1 draw on Sunday afternoon during an afternoon where the signs of summer had truly arrived in the Spanish capital.
Although the hosts controlled proceedings in the opening 45 minutes, it was not until the second half where they made their dominance count as Cristiano Ronaldo continued his excellent run of goalscoring form by lashing home a beautifully-timed volley to mark his 650th career goal.
But their advantage lasted just four minutes as Antoine Griezmann blasted home from around 12 yards to grab a share of the spoils for the visitors.
The stalemate marks the fifth consecutive game where Atletico Madrid have escaped the home of their nearest neighbors without defeat. However, the draw does afford Barcelona the opportunity to extend its advantage at the top of La Liga to 11 points, and all but confirms this year's title will be lifted in Catalonia.
As expected, Real Madrid assumed the ascendancy during the opening exchanges of the contest, with Zinedine Zidane's men enjoying long spells of possession in and around the Atleti area.
However, maybe more surprisingly, given his current form, it was Ronaldo who spurned the hosts' clearest opportunity during the opening quarter of an hour as the Portugal international was found from a corner at the back post unmarked less than six yards from goal.
Gareth Bale rose highest in the area and flicked the cross towards his attacking team-mate, but the 33-year-old's reactions were not quick enough to force any meaningful contact onto the knock on, and the five-time Ballon d'Or winner's effort nestled safely in Jan Oblak's arms.
Following Ronaldo's opening, Los Blancos continued to plug away, and the vast majority of the overspilling Estadio Santiago Bernabeu were adamant the hosts should have been awarded a penalty shortly following as Juanfran collided with Toni Kroos in the area. However, referee Javier Estrada Fernandez left the Madridistas incensed by turning away the German's plea; a somewhat harsh decision on reflection.
In the fallout of the official opting not to award Real Madrid the opportunity to take the lead from 12 yards, Atleti began to assert a foothold in proceedings. Although, the hosts were the side to fashion the most meaningful chance before the half-hour mark as Raphael Varane saw his close-range effort well smothered by Oblak after finding further success from a set-piece.
Los Vikingos' pressure continued to mount as half-time approached; however, Diego Costa possibly should have put the visitors ahead shortly after the 30-minute mark as he sprang the offside trap only to be denied by Keylor Navas.
But the hosts' assault on the opposition goal almost eventually provided the scoreline advantage it had deserved, as Marcelo clattered the woodwork from range through a deliciously bending effort. However, it was not to be for Los Blancos, and Oblak's stunning first-half showing meant his side were still on level terms as referee Fernandez brought a close to the opening 45 minutes.
Following the interval, Los Blancos resumed their control of the contest, and, unlike the first half, finally made their dominance count, as seven minutes after the restart, Ronaldo put Real Madrid into the lead with his 650th career goal.
Bale found space on the left-hand side before delivering a beautifully measured cross into the area which the Portuguese ace latched onto on the volley with a swipe of his right foot, leaving Oblak no chance as the ball fired past the Slovenian and into the bottom corner.
However, it took Atletico Madrid a mere four minutes to respond, as Griezmann sent the traveling 150 supporters into ecstasy by rounding off a smart Atleti attacking move.
Vitolo burst into the area; dragging Navas away from his goal, before gently popping possession into the path of the Frenchman, who powered his effort past the out of position Costa Rican and the scrambling Varane from 12 yards to give his side a somewhat undeserved lifeline.
After things were brought back to level terms, a lull in quality at either end followed, with neither side able to fashion a clear opportunity in the final 30 minutes and both seemingly eyeing their European commitments later in the week.
But Oblak was called into action once more, in stoppage time, as Sergio Ramos' bending free kick look destined to win the derby, only for the 25-year-old goalkeeper to somehow deny the center-back, who had taken over set-piece duties following Ronaldo's substitution.
The result leaves the gap between the two sides at four points, but now surely ends any doubt that this year's La Liga title is heading to Barcelona.