Barcelona 1 (Pique 56′) – 2 (Benzema 62′, Ronaldo 85′) Real Madrid
Real Madrid battled back from a goal down to end Barcelona’s unbeaten run in a tense Clasico on Saturday evening.
Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed an 85th minute winner for his side as Luis Enrique’s men were unable to beat a Real Madrid reduced to 10 men, after Sergio Ramos was sent off for two bookable offences.
A tentative first 45 minutes ended goalless with Barcelona enjoying the majority of possession. Real were set out in a far more rigid defensive style than we have seen from them this season and the home side found it difficult to carve open opportunities, though Luis Suarez was guilty of missing a golden chance early on.
It took until the 56th minute for Gerard Pique to open the scoring, losing his marker, Pepe, at a corner and powering a header into the bottom corner of Keylor Navas’ goal.
Real responded almost immediately, Marcelo making a rare venture outside the confines of his position at left-back and going on a marauding run down the wing, leaving static Barca players behind as he surged forwards. The ball was released by the box, the cross took a wicked deflection and fell above the head of Karim Benzema, who adjusted his body and scored with an acrobatic volley.
Real sat back, marshaled by a brilliant Casemiro, and invited Barcelona to attack them, looking to spring attacks on the counter. But as Lionel Messi dropped deeper and deeper to try and get involved, so Real took a stronger hold of the game.
Gareth Bale had a goal unfairly ruled out for a push on Jordi Alba and it looked like Real’s chance of snatching victory had gone when Ramos was shown his second yellow card. In truth, he should have been shown it far earlier after a catalogue of clumsy challenges all over the pitch. This was his fourth red card in a Clasico.
Barca pushed looking for a winner but it was Real who provided the twist in the tale. Gareth Bale, tireless in his defensive winger role on the right hand side, moved down the pitch and crossed to the back post for Ronaldo. The Portuguese controlled the ball effortlessly on his chest, took Alba out of the game in the process and fired a low shot through the legs of Claudio Bravo to grab a famous win.
Barcelona will take comfort from the six point lead they enjoy over title rivals Atletico Madrid but this was a huge win for Zinedine Zidane, and one clearly influenced by the tactical choices the Frenchman made.
That’s it! Great game! Barcelona’s unbeaten run comes to an end as Ronaldo settles the Clasico for the 10 men of Real Madrid.
90 mins +2
Real Madrid have everyone behind the ball in their own half now, they’re hanging on to this lead if they can. Iniesta crosses in but sees his attempt headed straight back out. Arda Turan tries to join in but there’s no space in the middle – Real have five defenders now, Casemiro joining the back line.
Real break down the pitch… and Pepe is the furthest forward! What is this about?! Barca clear up the mess.
Iniesta goes down under a heavy challenge from Modric, Gareth Bale is down complaining about cramp and Real Madrid are about to bring on super speedy Lucas Vasquez, who is super speedy. Zidane is using dirty tactics to count down the clock now.
Messi drives from deep and tries to play in Suarez over the top but Pepe heads away. Real Madrid have defended really well here tonight. What can Barca do to get back in this game? Will that unbeaten run end on 39?
GOOOOAAAALLLLL! Barcelona 1 – 2 (Ronaldo 85′) Real Madrid
RONALDOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! Bale moves down the right, chips to the back post and Ronaldo cushions the ball brilliantly on his chest, Alba flies past him deceived by the control, and Ronaldo fires a shot between the legs of Bravo and into the back of the net. Great goal!
RAMOS IS SENT OFF!
This has been coming for ages. Ramos should probably have had about five yellow cards so far tonight, but lunges into the back of Luis Suarez – AGAIN – and gets his second. Should have been off earlier. Will he ever learn?
RONALDO HITS THE BAR! What a strike by Ronaldo. He’s at the edge of the box, puts the ball on his right foot and thunders a curling, dipping shot at the top corner and it comes off the bar.
Real keep coming forward and Barcelona are struggling. Bale goes round the keeper but is slightly too wide in the box and his pass into the middle of the box lacks power and Mascherano clears.
Gareth Bale leaps at the back post and cushions a header low into the goal! He runs off celebrating, but for no reason whatsoever, the referee rules it out. The assistant seemed to think it was a push on Alba, or offside, or just something else that wasn’t a foul.
Messi loses the ball in the centre circle and Ronaldo comes forward with it! He gets to the box and pulls the trigger but defenders block him. Jese was free to his right…
Barcelona move down the pitch and Suarez tries to score a wonder goal as Messi’s chipped pass takes him wide in the box. His shot fizzes across goal but is wide.