Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice and set up another as Barcelona stunned Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in Xavi’s first Liga Clasico as coach.
The former Arsenal striker opened the scoring, heading home Ousmane Dembele just before the half-hour mark. Seven minutes before the break Raul Araujo headed home Dembele’s corner to double Barcelona’s lead.
Rather than come out and regroup after half-time, Real Madrid were a shambles. Ferran Torres spurned a great chance after being allowed to run through from the halfway line a minute before he added to the lead, coolly slotting into the top corner after Aubameyang’s fantastic backheel.
Four minutes later Aubameyang had the ball in the net once more courtesy of a delightful left-footed clip and although initially being ruled out for offside, VAR overturned the decision.
It is not a match which will have any bearing on the title race, which Carlo Ancelotti’s side have all but won, and it may just be a footnote in Real Madrid’s season if they once more progress to a Champions League final, but it will certainly stands as yet another memorable night in El Clasico history and, perhaps, the day Barcelona’s reputation as a force in world football has been restored.
TALKING POINT – AN ICONIC NIGHT FOR XAVI AND BARCELONA
El Clasico is where reputations are made, especially for Barcelona players, and even more so at the Santiago Bernabeu. It is fair to say Xavi aced this first Real examination.
Johan Cruyff inspiring his side to a 5-0 victory en route to a league title in 1974 remains one of the most celebrated nights in Barcelona history. Diego Maradona and Ronaldinho were applauded by Real fans after magical goals at the venue. Then Lionel Messi produced one of the greatest moments of his career, effectively deciding a Champions League semi-final there 11 years ago, and his most iconic celebration holding his shirt aloft in 2017.
Assuming the Xavi-era at Barcelona is trophy-laden, which does not seem a stretch at this stage, this match will stand with these moments as one of the precious moments of the most prestigious derby in world football for the Catalan side.
MAN OF THE MATCH – PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (BARCELONA)
He didn’t get his hat-trick and he should have done. He had great chances before and after grabbing his two goals but this should not take away from a sublime performance. His two finishes were fantastic but even better was the set up for Torres’ goal which could be a career highlight. From looking like his career had hit a nadir less than two months ago, which he may not recover from, he now might look as good as he ever has.
Real Madrid: Courtois 7, Carvajal 5, Militao 5, Alaba 5, Nacho 5; Valverde 6, Modric 5, Casemiro 7, Kroos 5; Vinicius 5, Rodrygo 5. Subs: Camavinga 5, Diaz 5, Vazquez 6, Asensio 5.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen 7; Araujo, Pique 7, Garcia 7, Alba 7; Busquets 7, de Jong 7, Pedri 7; Dembele 8, Ferran Torres 7, Aubameyang 9. Subs: Depay 7, Gavi 6, Gonzalez 6, Traore 6, Alves 6.
29′ GOAL! Real 0-1 Barca (Aubameyang): Aubameyang continues his incredible scoring run. Dembele gets around Nacho and drives in a cross which Aubameyang meets with a firm stooping header and leaves Courtois with no chance.
38′ GOAL! Real 0-2 Barca (Araujo): Araujo rises highest to meet Dembele’s corner and heads low beyond Courtois’ reach.
47′ GOAL! Real 0-3 Barca (Torres): Now he has scored. Torres makes no mistake this time finishing a wonderful move which saw De Jong clip a ball through for Aubameyang, who produced a wonderful back-heeled square ball which the left-sided forward slammed into the roof of the net.
53′ GOAL! Real 0-4 Barca (Aubameyang): Aubameyang has the ball in the net again! It was a delightful dink after Torres played him in but offside has been given initially. VAR is now checking… A goal has now been awarded. Aubameyang has a second. As well as a great start to the Xavi Clasico era this might be one of the great first appearances in the game.
58′ WHAT A MISS! Aubameyang won’t get a better chance for a hat-trick, Pedri put it on a plate for him sliding in a cross from the left hand side of the penalty area but the Gabon striker somehow put it wide of the target.