In the 169th edition of El Clasico, home side Real Madrid downed bitter rivals Barcelona 3-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu.
[RELATED: Stats, commentary of El Clasico]
Barca went 1-0 up early through Neymar, but Real surged back with goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe and Karim Benzema sealing an important win for Carlo Ancelotti’s side. Luis Suarez assisted on Neymar’s goal in his comeback match after being out for four months, but Real tore Barca’s defense apart as they climbed to second in the standings behind a largely disappointing Barcelona.
Luis Enrique’s men had the perfect start as Neymar scored inside four minutes to silence the home crowd. A fluid move saw Suarez play a superb cross field ball to his strike partner who jinxed inside and curled home a beauty. 1-0 to Barcelona.
Karim Benzema twice went close for Real as they surged forward in search of an equalizer. Benzema hit the bar and post in quick succession
In the 22nd minute Messi should have scored after a great ball from Neymar on the right found the Argentine six-yards out but somehow Iker Casillas got a touch on the shot from close range and the ball went out for a corner.
Then in the 33rd minute Real were back in the game as Marcelo got to the touchline, pulled the ball pack and Gerard Pique inexlicably blocked the ball with his hand to concede a penalty. Ronaldo stepped up and slotted the PK home for his 21st goal of the season. That was also the first goal Barca had conceded all season and it should have been 2-1 right on half time when Marcelo’s cross found James Rodriguez but he sent his header wide.
Five minutes into the second half Real had turned things around with Pepe heading home after poor marking from Barcelona. 2-1 to Real. Barca came back strong after going behind and Mathieu hammered a shot towards the top corner which Casillas turned away brilliantly.
Real then hit Barca on the counter to make it 3-1, as Isco took out two players with a flick, played it to Ronaldo, who knocked it to James, who set up Benzema to slow home off the post and send the home fans wild. It was 3-1 to Real in the 61st minute and game over.
Real Madrid: Casillas; Marcelo, Pepe, Ramos, Carvajal; Kroos, Modric (Arbeloa, 89′), James; Isco (Illarramendi, 83′), Benzema (Khedira, 86′), Ronaldo
Goals: Ronaldo (35′), Pepe (50′), Benzema (61′)
Barcelona: Bravo, Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Mathieu, Busquets, Xavi (Rakitic, 60′), Iniesta (Roberto, 72′), Neymar, Messi, Suarez (Pedro, 69′)
Goal: Neymar (4′)