Real Madrid moved three points clear at the top of La Liga with a richly deserved 3-1 win over arch rivals Barcelona in Sunday’s Clasico at the Bernabeu.
With their Champions League campaign dangling by a thread, Barcelona went into the match keen to assert domestic prowess. They dominated possession throughout the match, but were largely toothless in attack and allowed Los Blancos to pick them off with two first half counter-attacks.
The first goal came after great work from Toni Kroos, who sent Vinicius Junior through on goal with a delicious pass. Though Marc-Andre ter Stegen was on hand to parry the Brazilian’s shot, Karim Benzema was first on the scene to stroke the rebound home.
Barcelona huffed and puffed but struggled to craft many meaningful opportunities, coming closest to scoring when Robert Lewandowski inexplicably fired over from two yards out – a rare sight indeed from such an established goal threat.
Xavi’s side continued to hoard possession in the second half as they pushed for a route back into the game, but no such route opened up as Madrid simply sat back and let their opponents come at them.
Barcelona continued to throw men forward as the game edged towards full-time, eventually finding a breakthrough when Lewandowski squared the ball for substitute Ferran Torres to stab home.
The goal gave the Catalans hope and they continued to push for an equaliser as time ticked on, but it was Madrid who had the last laugh when Eric Garcia brought down Rodrygo in the Barca penalty area with a clumsy challenge.
After a VAR check, the penalty was given, Rodrygo dusting himself off to confidently fire past Ter Stegen and seal the three points for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
The result puts Madrid clear at the top of the league with 25 points from nine games, ending Barcelona’s unbeaten start to the season in the process.