Last night's Madrid derby could have been the turning point in this year's race for the La Liga title. Even though the match was played between neighbours Real Madrid CF and Atletico de Madrid, what was really at stake was the top spot in the La Liga table, which is being hotly contested between Los Blancos and FC Barcelona.

After winning 1-0 at home at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid are now six points clear of FC Barcelona. If the latter wins against Levante on Sunday night, Real will still maintain a 3-point advantage.

Why is this significant? For the better part of the season, archrivals Barcelona and Real Madrid have been sitting on a deadlock at the top of the table. Barcelona held the top spot for several months, but only on account of goal difference. Neither team has been able to break away from the other. even their head-to-head at El Clasico was a draw.

After Barcelona's slip-up against Valencia (2-0) last week, Real Madrid took a 3-point lead. However, they had to win against their city rivals if they wanted to maintain the lead. They did just that last night, thanks to a brilliantly crafted goal by the trio of Vinicius Jr, Ferland Mendy and Karim Benzema.

After a largely boring first half, neither team posed a real threat. Half-time substitutions by Zinedine Zidane breathed new life into the Real Madrid attack. Fresh legs paid off in the 56th minute as Vinicius Jr. weaved his way through the midfield before connecting with an overlapping Mendy. A decisive cross from the French full back gave Karim Benzema the perfect opportunity to beat Atletico keeper Jan Oblak.

The final minutes of the match started to become heated as desperation started to show. The referee refused to brandish a card on many occasions, which led to even hotter heads and frustrated players. Luckily, the confrontations didn't result in ejections and injuries. After last night's loss, Atletico is now in danger of getting kicked out of the European slots.

Meanwhile, all eyes will now be at the the Camp Nou, where Barcelona will face Levante. They need to win if they want to stay within striking distance of the title.

Karim Benzema scores
Karim Benzema scored last night's winning goal