El Clasico recap: Sergio Ramos won and scored a controversial penalty as under-fire Real Madrid took a step toward defending its La Liga crown with a 3-1 win over Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Saturday.
Federico Valverde scored early for Real but Ansu Fati had a quick answer. The penalty was awarded through VAR as Ramos was fouled but appeared to have hurt his chances by hurling himself to the turf.
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Luka Modric scored late as Barca fought for an equalizer, Ronald Koeman sure to be under pressure for riding his starters over 81 minutes despite a midweek match against Ferencvaros.
Real’s 13 points through six matches lead Real Sociedad and Villarreal by two points atop the table, while Barca’s seven in five are six off the pace. The Real win saves Zidane a three-match losing streak after last week’s home league defeat to Cadiz and home UCL loss to COVID-hit Shakhtar.
Lionel Messi helped set up the first goal and nearly drew a penalty but otherwise was very much held in check.
American back Sergino Dest was quite good over 90 minutes. Here’s a look at his day plus three things we learned from El Clasico and the Barcelona – Real Madrid recap.
Three things we learned from El Clasico
1. VAR determines the derby — Sergio Ramos won and converted a 63rd-minute penalty that took nearly five minutes to be awarded to Real. Barca’s Clement Lenglet had a hold of Ramos’ jersey on a Toni Kroos free kick and the center back hit the deck in comical fashion. But the comedy was only aesthetic, as the savvy move ensured VAR would have a look at a 50/50 decision that understandably went in Real’s favor.
The controversy won’t be rooted in that decision itself, more that an earlier shout did not go in Messi’s favor at the other end and that the referee, Juan Martinez Munuera, has what Barca believes to be a questionable record in their matches.
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2. Fati shines — Ronald Koeman’s first El Clasico lineup opted for youth including a right side with a combined age of 36 between Sergino Dest and Pedri. Lionel Messi dropped back often to help. On the left side, Jordi Alba drove the bus and found Ansu Fati for the opening goal.
Fati isn’t 18 until Halloween but was possibly the most dangerous man — and at least the joint-most dangerous — on a pitch that included Messi.
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ANSU FATI quickly nets the @FCBarcelona equalizer!#ElClasico
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3. Koeman’s long wait to sub will inspire discussion — With Barca needing an equalizer and controlling the ball, Koeman believed in his Starting XI deep into the outing. Koeman cued up a trio of 81st minute subs with Trincao, Ousmane Dembele, and Antoine Griezmann entering for Pedri, Fati, and a substandard Sergio Busquets.
Man of the Match
It’s either Ramos or Toni Kroos, and we’ll hand it to the former for his role in the decisive moment (even if Kroos swept in the service).
Dest’s first El Clasico
First 5′ — A little juggle deep in Real’s territory only led to a throw-in, and the American teenager made a block at the other end as Madrid tested the right side.
19′ — Chops down Toni Kroos on the side line moments after Messi is fouled outside the 18.
31′ — A delightful turn past Ferland Mendy in Real’s right corner leads to a hopeful and blocked cross.
33′ — Blocks a Mendy cross from close range, then soon steps in front of a driving Casemiro to deny a very dangerous chance.
39 — Vinicius pushes the ball behind Dest but the American turns on a dime and shepherds the ball out. Really strong sequence for Dest.
53′ — Dest cuts through two players with dribbling wizardry, then hits the deck outside the 18 after a quick 1-2 but the referee and linesman felt it was coincidental contact from Ramos and nothing to whistle.
54′ — He slips Fati into the right side, but the American’s chipped invitation was nodded poorly and wide by Philippe Coutinho.
59 ‘ — Handles a chipped pass on the right sideline to give Kroos a free kick from 10 yards outside the 18. The ensuing set piece leads to the penalty. Unlucky.
73′ — Another big tackle on the right springs a run up the right side.
Stat line (SofaScore) — 95 percent passing (42-of-44), five-of-six dribbles completed, one key pass, Eight-of-13 duels won, Three tackles, one clearance, one blocked shot
Barcelona – Real Madrid recap
Real took a fifth-minute lead in the right of the box, Benzema swirling a terrific through ball around Gerard Pique and Lenglet could not track Valverde ahead of a fine finish into the roof of the goal.
Casemiro saw yellow for a chop at Lionel Messi’s legs before the Argentine fired a shot to Thibaut Courtois.
The Belgian keeper denied Messi from close range after the forward took an outstanding cross from Fati and turned a defender inside out.
Real broke the other way and Kroos picked out Benzema only to see Neto make a fine save from dead center.
Casemiro slid Messi down in the box and a VAR review did not award a penalty as a lightning start continued at the Camp Nou.
Dest and Fati were very busy in the early stages of the second half, but Real got a long video review when Lenglet got a hold of Ramos’ jersey and the Spaniard acted well to make sure the tug was reviewed.
Ramos doesn’t miss many penalties and it was 2-1.
Barca had a penalty shout rightly denied by VAR when Ramos cleared danger off Raphael Varane’s forearm, which was close to the Frenchman’s body.
Koeman cued up a trio of 81st minute subs, Trincao, Ousmane Dembele, and Antoine Griezmann entering for Pedri, Fati, and a substandard Sergio Busquets.
Neto made a trio of terrific saves on Kroos and Ramos in the 86th minute to keep a result in the balance for Barca, but Modric had the answer to insure the win. Zidane and Real avoid a third-straight loss and take the lead in La Liga.