Karim Benzema scored his 12th El Clasico goal as Real Madrid secured a 3-1 win over Barcelona in a breathless derby at the Bernabeu.
Real broke the deadlock after just ten minutes after Marc-Andre Ter Stegen parried Vinicius Junior’s close range effort into Karim Benzeima’s path, leaving the Frenchman with an empty net to aim at from 12 yards.
The visitors took back control with Raphinha causing chaos every time he cut inside, and Barca should have had the equaliser when his perfect cross found Robert Lewandowski five-yards out at the back post, only for the Polish striker to blaze over in despair.
Barca kept coming at their hosts down the flanks, but against the run of play Real grabbed a second. Ferland Mendy found Federico Valverde outside the box in plenty of space, and the Uruguayan even had time to tee himself up before rifling home past a diving Ter Stegen.
Frenkie de Jong forced a smart save from Andriy Lunin and Lewandowski headed wide, but Barcelona could not pull a goal back before the break.
Raphina continued to torment the Real backline but the Catalan Giants could not find the quality up front to turn smart build-up play into a goal.
The hosts thought they had killed the game off when Vinicius picked out Benzema on the right flank, with the Frenchman slotting home before the offside flag cut celebrations short.
And as Barca battled on they finally pulled one back as Ansu Fati’s cross found Ferran Torres unmarked at the back post, the Spaniard slotting him before racing to the centre circle with the ball in hand.
But it was too little too late for Barcelona, and it was Real who scored the killer goal as substitute Rodrygo went down in the box. After dusting himself down, he slotted home to ensure three points that saw the champions leapfrog their rivals and go top of La Liga.
MAN OF THE MATCH – KARIM BENZEMA
He is a Real Madrid legend through and through. In 24 hours, the Frenchman will deservedly be lifting the Balon d’Or and he’s shown exactly why today, leading his side to El Clasico victory and scoring on the way.
TALKING POINT – BARCA FAIL FIRST TRUE TEST
Barcelona had conceded just once this season on their way to the top of the table after eight games, but critics rightly pointed out they had hardly been tested by Spain’s best.
They’ve been shown up in the Champions League against better sides, and today they failed their first proper domestic test, because Real Madrid were comfortable and kept the likes of Lewandowski quiet.
Today’s Clasico serves as a reminder that Barca are still a work in progress under Xavi.
Real Madrid: Lunin 6, Mendy 7, Alaba 8, Militao 8, Carvajal 7, Modric 7, Tchouameni 8, Kroos 7, Vinicius Junior 8, Valverde 7, Benzema 8. Subs. Rodrygo 7, Camavinga 6, Asensio n/a, Rudiger n/a.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen 6, Roberto 6, Kounde 7, Garcia 6, Balde 5, Pedri 6, Busquets 7, De Jong 5, Raphinha 7, Dembele 6, Lewandowski 5. Subs. Alba 6, Fati 7, Gavi 6, Torres 7, Kessie n/a.
12′ – GOAL! REAL MADRID 1 BARCELONA 0 (Benzema). REAL GET THE OPENER! Vinicius is through and his close-range effort is saved by Ter Stegen, but the German can only parry into the path of Benzema who lashes home into an empty net from just inside the box. The side to score first in the last 12 Clasicos at the Bernabeu has gone on to win the game.
26′ – WHAT A MISS! Big, big miss. From none other than Lewandowski…five yards out. The striker gets himself on the end of a great Raphinha cross but his first-time effort flies high over the crossbar. A head in hands moment for Barcelona fans because they’ve come to expect more from the big Polish striker. He should have equalised.
35′ – GOAL! REAL MADRID 2 BARCELONA 0 (Valverde). WOW! What was I saying? Barcelona had Real Madrid pinned back with Raphinha causing all sorts of trouble, but Real Madrid go up the other end and grab a second. It’s so easy too. Mendy picks out Valverde in plenty of space just outside the box, he tees himself up and finds the corner. They didn’t close him down quick enough.
83′ – GOAL! REAL MADRID 2 BARCELONA 1 (Ferran). A hope? Ferran pulls one back for the visitors! It’s brilliant from Fati who speeds down the left, squares for Lewandowski who flicks on for Ferran to slot into an empty net. He grabs the ball and races to the centre circle.
90+2′ – GOAL! REAL MADRID 3 BARCELONA 1 (Rodrygo). Benzema has been subbed so penalty taking duties fall to Rodrygo who blasts past Ter Stegen to wrap up El Clasico.