Real Madrid defeat Barcelona in Clasico to regain top spot in La Liga

Real Madrid won the Clasico and
might have saved their season as they ended their slump in the best way
possible on Sunday by beating Barcelona 2-0 and returning to the top of La
Junior’s deflected finish and a stoppage-time goal from Mariano Diaz decided a
frenzied contest at the Santiago Bernabeu, where Madrid found new life after a
Champions League defeat by Manchester City had left them on the brink of
been a tough week,” said Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane. “We
talked about how we had an opportunity this weekend and we took it.”
put them one point clear at the top of the table and shifts focus back to
Quique Setien’s Barcelona, who were outfought and, at times, outplayed.
reality is we lost a lot of confidence with the ball,” said Setien.
“We entered a nervous spell and that’s when the goal came.”
Messi’s rasping shot was saved by Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in the first
half but it was the Argentine’s opposing captain, Sergio Ramos, who was
thrashing his arms in celebration after the final whistle.
reaction was an indication of the importance of this victory, not only for the
effect it has on the standings but on the dynamic of the title race, which had
seemed to be switching firmly in favour of Barca.
Ronaldo, now of Juventus, was watching from an executive box and Madrid could
have done with him during a period in which they had won only one of their last
five games.
said on Saturday this match would not decide who lifted the trophy in May but a
Barca win and a five-point gap might well have been difficult to close.
from the start Barcelona seemed keener to kill the game than win it, playing
for time in the hope of keeping the contest tight, when they might have been
better off attacking their opponents’ fragility.
Madrid we faced in the first half was one of the worst Madrids I have faced at
the Bernabeu,” said Gerard Pique.
don’t say it as a criticism, we also have our problems, but we’ve missed an
was more tension than creativity in the early stages as Fede Valverde crashed
into Arthur Melo before fellow Spain full-backs Dani Carvajal and Jordi Alba
were both booked after a disagreement.
had the better of the play and regularly broke at speed through Vinicius down
the left but constantly they failed to make the final pass, with Isco once left
with his head in his hands after Marcelo opted not to pull the ball back.
passing was slow and their lack of urgency obvious. At one point Messi bent to
tie his bootlaces and re-spotted the ball before taking a corner.
the visitors also created chances as Antoine Griezmann drove over from Alba’s
cutback and then Madrid had Courtois to thank for two excellent saves.
Arthur held off Toni Kroos to go clear but his finish was blocked by teh foot
of Courtois and then the Belgian palmed away Messi’s shot after he had skipped
in behind Madrid’s defence.
was lucky to get away with an error that allowed Nelson Semedo to break past
him while Alba risked a second yellow when he checked Valverde but referee
Mateu Lahoz was unmoved.
were sloppy after half-time and Madrid should have capitalised. Instead, Isco’s
header beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen but not Pique on the line and Karim Benzema
volleyed over after a sloppy pass from Arturo Vidal.
was replaced by Martin Braithwaite, Barca’s emergency signing, and he sprinted
in behind Marcelo twice in his first minute.
Madrid remained in the ascendancy and in the 71st minute they took the lead.
came short and pointed right to encourage Vinicius to run in behind. Kroos
found him and Vinicius’s shot deflected off the sliding Pique to beat Ter
Stegen at his near post.
The game opened up as Barcelona
chased an equaliser. Marcelo celebrated when Messi’s surge through was stopped
by Raphael Varane. Pique headed Messi’s cross over at the near post. Messi
picked up a yellow card for a frustrated slide on Casemiro.
injury time, Ter Stegen ventured up for a late free-kick but it was Madrid that
struck again. Mariano sped past Semedo and finished from the angle.

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