Real Madrid win thrilling El Clasico
Real Madrid took the El Clasico honours as they beat arch-rivals Barcelona in a captivating game at the Bernabeu.
Luis Suarez started for Barcelona after a four-month ban for biting and set up Neymar to arrow in the opener.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi spurned a glorious chance before Cristiano Ronaldo equalised with a penalty.
A powerful header from Pepe put Real ahead before they added to their lead when Karim Benzema finished a brilliant counter-attack with an angled shot.
The Real fans roared their approval at the end as as the home side came out on top in a match-up between two of the world’s most star-studded line-ups.
Real’s celebrations following the 229th meeting between the two were also heightened with the victory helping them close the gap to one point on La Liga leaders Barcelona.
The visitors may have taken the lead but were ultimately disappointing as they failed to match the greater cutting edge in attack and solidity in defence of the home side as they suffered their first league defeat of the season.
A game between these two Spanish giants is usually one to savour and it was even more so this time considering the array of talent on show.
Real had Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and Benzema up front, while Barcelona had Messi, Neymar and Suarez.
Suarez starting added to the spectacle as he played for the first time since his ban for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup came to an end.
The Uruguayan made an immediate impact when his crossfield pass found Neymar, and the Brazilian cut in from the left and curled in a low shot for the opener.
The goal only served to spark Real into action during a fast and furious opening. Barcelona keeper Claudio Bravo had not conceded a goal in his side’s eight league games prior to the match and had to be at his best to keep his run going.
He got a left palm to a Benzema effort before the Real Madrid forward thumped a header from Ronaldo’s cross against the woodwork and smashed the rebound wide.
The game was living up to the hype and Barcelona should have added to their lead when Suarez sent in a low cross for Messi only for the Argentine to uncharacteristically sidefoot wide from close range.
However, Real were level when Gerard Pique handled a low Marcelo cross and Ronaldo dispatched the penalty to score his 16th league goal of the campaign.
The home side started the second half brightly and their pressure eventually broke a vulnerable Barcelona defence when Pepe powered in a header from a corner.
The goal gave Los Blancos a firm grip of the game as they sat back and comfortably soaked up Barcelona’s pressure, while continually hitting the Catalan club on the break.
And, when Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta lost possession on the halfway line, Real lethally struck for their third. Isco, Ronaldo and Rodriguez combined before the latter slid a pass through to Benzema, who angled in a precise shot.
Barcelona never looked like engineering a way back into the game and even Messi struggled to make an impact as he and his team-mates were well-marshalled by deserved winners Real.