Real Madrid and their purple patch of form hit past tense as the Blaugrana coasted to victory in Sunday’s El Clasico. Red cards and penalties were major episodes while the referee played his part and ruined the game as a spectacle.
It was fiery start to proceedings as both teams kept possession and played on the counter. Gerard Martino’s side shifted gears with slick one-touch passing in the midfield, making a total of 24 passes as Barca played out from the back for the first goal. Messi was allowed space in front of defense as he put a quality pass on the left for Iniesta who was on the run and in space as Carvajal held a narrow line, Iniesta had a brilliant first touch and slammed the ball high giving no time for Lopez in goal.
From being the in-form team, Barcelona had slammed Los Blancos down to misery.
However, Real Madrid’s marquee signing Gareth Bale surged forward from the middle as he played Benzema into the box, who couldn’t deliver a finishing touch to the move. Another chance went begging as Benzema skied a tee-off by Di Maria from 8 yards out. A few minutes later it was Fabregas with a quality pass that put through Messi as the forward ran in on goal away from the defenders only to see his shot miss the target.
Real Madrid pushed for an equaliser and Di Maria delivered for them with a perfect cross in front of goal and Benzema had his name written on it with a powerful header saw the ball enter the net, despite a touch of Valdes’s hand. Barcelona was denied the early advantage as Carlo Ancelotti celebrated on the side-lines.
Two minutes later, the Bernebeu erupted as Madrid held fort and saw the ball in the back of the net for the second time. Angel Di Maria made another assist as he crossed from the by line inside the six yard box, Mascherano in his effort to head the ball missed it completely which fell for Benzema who took it by his thigh and volleyed in on goal. Barcelona’s defensive problems had the better of them as the Catalans failed to avert the cross and were left trailing.
Madrid’s man-on-fire was Di Maria covering every blade of grass on the pitch as the Argentine ran ahead inside the box played it for Benzema that led Valdes out of position but the Frenchman’s shot denied off the line by Pique.
A possible shift in balance was too early to call as Lionel Messi struck from the six yard box after a one-two with Neymar inside the area. The El Clasico lived up to its reputation as Pepe and Fabregas had a bust up after the goal as tempers flared with the ref brandishing yellows to both. Lionel Messi took to the record books again with 19 goals surpassing Alfredo di Stefano’s tally of 18 as the top scorer in El Classico.
Early into the second half and Real were romping after ref awarded a penalty for a foul on Ronaldo by Alves. The Portuguese was allowed space to dribble around the box and Alves caught him by the slightest of touches. But replays showed the foul was six to eight inches outside the box. The Portuguese scored form the spot and Real led 3-2 in the 56th minute.
Another controversial decision came 9 minutes later, when the referee sent off Sergio Ramos for a clip on Neymar inside the box and awarded Barca a penalty. Although it was Messi’s prolific vision to spot Neymar’s run from the right, behind the defenders as he dragged the ball inside the box with Ramos behind him. Messi converted his penalty and Barca drew 3-3 with an extra man on the pitch. Ancelotti immediately decided to sacrifice Benzema for Varane. Barcelona playing a quick tempo tiki-taka and in desperate search of a winner.
As Barca dominated proceedings on the pitch Messi with a layoff for Alves outside the box and Brazilian hit it with venom as Lopez missed it but was denied by the post.
Then, with the match beautifully poised, Andres Iniesta with his quick dribbling skills, was felled inside the box and after being sandwiched between Alonso and Carvajal as he tried to cut in, forcing referee Alberto Undiano to blow for another penalty.
Lionel Messi stepped up and blasted the ball in the top corner. Six minutes to go and Los Merengues were a man too short for any damage on their rivals as fouls and ill-tempered challenges were abundant. However, at the end of the day, Barcelona left Bernebeu with another victory and three vital points.