Barcelona destroyed Real Madrid 4-0 in the first El Clasico of the season at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday, as goals from Luis Suarez (2), Neymar and Andres Iniesta did the damage.
It was a clinic from Barca, as Luis Enrique’s side extended their lead at the top of La Liga to six points over Real and embarased their bitter rivals in the process.
Real manager Rafael Benitez suffered defeat in his first taste of El Clasico as Real had not lost a home game since September 2014 before Saturday, winning 19 of their last 22 home matches in La Liga.
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Barca started brightly and in the opening 10 minutes they went close to going ahead as Jordi Alba played the ball into Suarez and his layoff found Neymar but the Brazilian curled his effort just over the bar. A rapid counter from Real released Ronaldo soon after and his run down the right ended with him crossing dangerously into the box but Barca cleared their lines.
Just 11 minutes was on the clock when the first goal of the game arrived and it was a beauty. Sergi Roberto made an incisive run through the heart of Real’s defense and slotted in Suarez who finished beautifully with the outside of his right foot to put Barcelona 1-0 up. Cue silence at the Santiago Bernabeu as the away side jumped into an early lead.
Ronaldo wanted a penalty kick soon after as Dani Alves looked to haul him down in the box but the referee waved away the appeals from the home players and fans, while Barca continued to press forward with purpose and Roberto fired over from 15-yards out. Javier Mascherano suffered a groin injury in the first half and the Argentine midfielder had to be replaced by Jeremy Mathieu.
Real pushed for the equalizer before the break but it was Barca who doubled their lead with Andres Iniesta clipping the ball through to Neymar (who looked a smidgen offside) and the Brazilian beat Keylor Navas down low. Marcelo then cleared off the line from Suarez as Barca lead 2-0 at the interval after 45 minutes of dominance from the Catalan club.
The home side came flying out of the traps at the start of the second half with Marcelo surging into the box but he drilled his shot into the side-netting. Seconds later James Rodriguez smashed a shot towards the bottom corner but Claudio Bravo saved well down to his right. At the other end Navas saved well from Neymar’s curling free kick to keep Barca at bay but that only last for a few minutes as soon it was 3-0 when Neymar’s flick found Iniesta and he rifled a shot into the top corner. Game over.
With 35 minutes left Lionel Messi came off the bench (that’s the last thing Real Madrid needed, right?) and although Real improved — Ronaldo and Benzema were denied by Bravo who put in a superb display — the damage was done as Barcelona eased to victory in the Spanish capital with Suarez adding his second and Barca’s fourth with a cool finish late on. Substitute Isco was sent off late on for an awful challenge on Neymar as Real finished the game with 10-men and Barca should have finished it with even more goals.
On this showing the gulf between these two rivals is vast as the pressure is mounting on Benitez less than six months into his reign at the Bernabeu with Zinedine Zidane reportedly being lined up to replace him.