The conclusion of the Madrid Trilogy took an unexpected turn in its final moments. Three intense matches within three weeks, each held on a different stage and in a different competition, resulted in Real Madrid claiming the Super Cup, Atlético Madrid emerging victorious in the Copa del Rey, and Real solidifying their dominance in the league. It appeared that the empire had regained its strength. However, in the 93rd minute, Marcos Llorente, who comes from a family of notable individuals who have left their mark on Real Madrid’s history, scored a crucial goal for their fierce rivals, causing him to raise his arms in celebration as he ran towards the corner with his teammates in pursuit.
Episodes I and II required additional time to determine a victor, while Episode III did not, resulting in a fierce battle with no clear winner. The first two parts delivered a total of 14 goals, thrilling and dramatic nights, and 120 minutes of intense action, ending with scores of 4-2 and 5-3 respectively. However, the last installment only saw two goals. Despite the draw allowing Carlo Ancelotti’s team to secure a two-point lead at the top of the table, it was the small group of 100 Atlético supporters in the north stand who were rejoicing at the final whistle.
Just as it appeared complete, Real Madrid’s midfield, which had been dominating, was suddenly challenged by Memphis Depay’s flick and Llorente’s goal, equalizing the score at 1-1. Madrid’s early lead disappeared and the narrative took a turn. It seemed like an unexpected hero would emerge: Brahim Díaz, who had previously scored a goal in Saudi Arabia by outrunning Jan Oblak and bending the ball into an open net, opened the scoring here. He was not expected to play at all, and only found out he was in the starting lineup minutes before the game began.
Vinícius Jr experienced neck discomfort before the game and was replaced. Just four minutes before kick-off, it was announced over the loudspeaker at the Bernabéu that Joselu would start in place of the Brazilian. However, when the team came out, it was actually Díaz who took the field. By the time Vinícius made it to the bench, he had taken pain medication in hopes of being able to play later. Meanwhile, his substitute wasted no time in attacking Atlético’s goal as Madrid started off strong.
The Díaz attempt, which occurred at the three-minute mark, was not their initial shot on goal.
One minute prior, Jude Bellingham had passed the ball between Mario Hermoso’s legs and quickly shot at the goal. A few minutes later, Eduardo Camavinga missed a shot over the crossbar. Atlético was struggling in their own defensive zone and had not gained possession in Madrid’s half. Their top player, Antoine Griezmann, had yet to receive the ball.
The initial attempt resulted in a fantastic pass that set up Álvaro Morata, but Andriy Lunin made an impressive save with his right hand. The following attempt ended in him being taken out. It seemed that Atlético had successfully withstood the early pressure. However, they quickly conceded after settling down. Two passes from Díaz and Lucas Vázquez, both of which were deflected by Saúl and Koke, respectively, unknowingly set up Díaz for a one-on-one opportunity at the edge of the six-yard box. He skillfully controlled the ball and lifted the shot over Oblak.
A lovely inswinging cross from Rodrigo Riquelme almost saw Axel Witsel get a swift equaliser but Lunin was leaping behind him, body stretched into a star, and pushed it wide. From the corner, Stefan Savic’s glancing header somehow slipped past the far post from three yards.
The situation was becoming quite enjoyable. Rodrygo missed the goal after passing with Díaz and Vázquez, who then had the next opportunity. Given the freedom to move forward, the Atlético defenders anticipated him passing the ball, but Vázquez ultimately chose to take a shot that hit the side of the goal.
Llorente made a delivery to Saúl who headed the ball just wide. Hermoso nearly scored at the far post, with a great pass from Rodrigo de Paul, but Rodrygo had closely followed him. Atlético believed they had tied the game at the beginning of the second half when Savic scored from a corner by Griezmann. However, Saúl was in front of the keeper on the goal line and in an offside position.
Atletico was attempting to regain momentum, but opportunities were scarce. The most promising one, in reality, occurred at the opposite side of the field as Madrid’s midfielders dominated while the game became more open.
Bellingham requested a penalty after being pushed over by Savic. A counterattack led by Fede Valverde, who burst through on the right, presented Rodrygo with a chance to win the game. However, he shot directly at Oblak. Díaz then produced a fantastic move, showcasing his quick footwork and making the ball disappear as he stopped and enticed Hermoso in. He then skillfully nutmegged Hermoso, turned past Witsel, and narrowly missed bending his shot into the goal.
Immediately after, he was taken out of the game and the crowd at the Bernabéu gave him a standing ovation. It seemed like it was his moment, but things took a different turn. He had to sit on the bench and witness the final twist of the Madrid Trilogy.