Reigning champions Real Madrid beat Barcelona 3-1 in the Clasico to overtake their bitter rivals at the top of La Liga on Sunday. Karim Benzema opened the scoring in the 12th minute by converting a rebound after Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved from Vinicius Junior, while Fede Valverde struck the second from the edge of the box before the break. Ferran Torres equalized for Barcelona in the closing stages after good work from Ansu Fati but Rodrygo won and converted a late penalty to ensure Carlo Ancelotti’s side inflicted Barcelona’s first domestic defeat of the season.
Madrid ended the Catalans’ seven-game winning streak in La Liga and added to the still painful struggles in Europe, where they are on the verge of extinction from the Champions League.
Barcelona, who spent big bucks in the summer trying to catch up with their rivals, are now three points behind them. The Catalans had conceded just one league goal in eight games before the Clasico, but scored twice as many goals in the first half, leaving Madrid the only unbeaten side in the league.
“We knew there would be a time in the game where we would have to suffer because they move the ball well and then each of us had to give more, defend well and we did it,” said Madrid midfielder Luka Modric to DAZN.
“We were convincing in attack, we scored three goals and I’m very happy with our performance. I think we played a great game.”
After a devastating midweek draw with Inter Milan that left Barcelona’s European hopes in limbo, Xavi made changes including Jules Kounde returning in place of Gerard Pique.
Barcelona’s best moment last season came at the Bernabeu when Xavi’s side clinched a surprise 4-0 win, but that visit sent them to their lowest level since the Spanish world champions took office.
“The feeling I have right now is that we are in a negative dynamic where nothing is going for us,” Xavi told DAZN. “I can’t be satisfied with anything, losing 3-1 at the Bernabeu is very bad.
Benzema on the money
Vinicius tested the left flank against the unconvincing Sergi Roberto in the early stages and it was from there that Madrid opened the scoring after 12 minutes.
The masterful Toni Kroos held off Sergio Busquets and threaded a clean pass down the wing, Vinicius leaving Roberto for dead. Ter Stegen prevented the Brazilian winger but Benzema was there to smash the rebound home.
The French striker had gone five games without a goal but ended his losing streak on the big stage, showing typically perfect timing as he is expected to win the Ballon d’Or in Paris on Monday.
Vinicius was booked after complaining about a push from Roberto as Barcelona began to gain a foothold in the game but another individual error quickly drew him away from them.
Eric Garcia’s loose header found Vinicius in a dangerous area and Madrid played with Barcelona’s defense, grinding them in one direction before Ferland Mendy passed the ball back to allow Valverde to drill home from the edge of the area.
Madrid continued to push forward after the break and Benzema rolled home a third but it was ruled out for offside.
At the other end, La Liga top scorer Robert Lewandowski sent a free-kick into the wall and called for a penalty after Dani Carvajal collided with him in the penalty area, but the referee wasn’t interested.
Substitute Fati unleashed a shot from outside the box but Madrid were largely comfortable, sitting back and keeping Barcelona at bay until Torres scored.
Fati’s brilliant run and cross for the Spanish winger gave Barcelona a lifeline, but Madrid sealed the win when Garcia stepped in Rodrygo in the penalty area and he beat ter Stegen from the point.
“We are very disappointed,” Barca defender Kounde told DAZN. “I don’t think we had a bad game, but in the first half we failed where they are strong, in the transitions.
“I think we should have made a foul on the first goal to stop the counterattack and on the second it’s pretty much the same. That’s the strength of (their) team. Sometimes they don’t have the ball, they suffer and then they score two goals achieve.”
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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