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Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona: Hosts win El Clasico to move top of La Liga

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Karim Benzema, Real Madrid, Barcelona, El ClasicoKarim Benzema's 25th goal of the season gave Real Madrid the lead in El Clasico

Real Madrid moved top of La Liga with victory over Barcelona in an El Clasico played in torrential rain at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium.

Karim Benzema broke the deadlock with a sublime near-post flick – his ninth goal in his past seven La Liga games.

Real doubled their lead before half-time through Toni Kroos' deflected free-kick.

Oscar Mingueza pulled one back for Barca before Madrid's Casemiro was shown a late red card.

Barca midfielder Ilaix Moriba's well-struck shot came back off the crossbar in stoppage time as the hosts held on.

The result takes Real above city rivals Atletico Madrid because of their superior head-to-head record.

Atletico, who led La Liga by 10 points as recently as 31 January, can reclaim top spot with victory at Real Betis on Sunday.

Real survive tense finale

Manager Zinedine Zidane's "every game is a final" mantra has served Real well in recent weeks – they had dropped only four points in their previous nine La Liga outings going into Saturday's crucial game.

Benzema's goals have been key in helping them cut the gap to rivals Atletico at the top of the table, and the Frenchman produced another exquisite finish to give Zidane's side an early lead.

The 33-year-old was first to Lucas Vazquez's low cross towards the near post, squeezing a backheeled flick past Marc-Andre ter Stegen for his 25th goal in 35 appearances this season.

Barcelona, who had revived their own title aspirations with 16 wins and three draws from their previous 19 La Liga fixtures, dominated possession but fell further behind when Kroos' free-kick took a deflection off Sergino Dest on its way past Ter Stegen.

Federico Valverde could have made it 3-0 before half-time, but his fierce drive across goal came back off the inside of the far post.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman switched from a 3-5-2 to a 4-3-3 formation in the second half and the move paid off 15 minutes after the restart, Mingueza turning Jordi Alba's cross past Thibaut Courtois to set up a tense finish.

Vinicius Junior was denied by the post as Real threatened to restore their two-goal advantage, before Lionel Messi – who had rattled the woodwork in the first half with an inswinging corner – struck the wall from a free-kick on the edge of the box.

Barcelona had a penalty appeal turned down when Martin Braithwaite went to ground under Ferland Mendy's challenge, before a late tackle on Mingueza earned Casemiro a second yellow card.

The visitors almost snatched a draw in second-half stoppage time when Moriba thumped a loose ball against Courtois' crossbar, but Real held on to record three consecutive El Clasico wins for the first time since 1978.


'A very complicated match'

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane said: "I feel very happy. We started the game very well. It was a very complicated match overall, but it was a deserved victory.

"I think we could have scored a third goal, but it's an important win. We did our job today."

Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman said: "I think everyone who saw the game will see that we can be very unhappy with the result.

"I think we weren't good at all in the first 45 minutes. We weren't good in attack or in defence, but in the second half we improved.

"We need to be better when making key decisions. They're decisions that can cost us the game and in the end they did.

"I think we should have got a clear penalty towards the end, and I don't know why it wasn't reviewed by VAR."

Line-upsMatch StatsLive Text


Real Madrid

Formation 4-1-4-1

1Courtois17Vázquez3Militão6Nacho23Mendy14Casemiro15Valverde10Modric8Kroos20Vinícius Júnior9Benzema1Courtois17VázquezSubstituted forOdriozolaat 43'minutes3Militão6NachoBooked at 69mins23Mendy14CasemiroBooked at 90mins15ValverdeSubstituted forAsensioat 61'minutes10Modric8KroosSubstituted forIscoat 72'minutes20Vinícius JúniorSubstituted forMarceloat 72'minutes9BenzemaSubstituted forMarianoat 72'minutes




Formation 3-4-2-1

1ter Stegen28Mingueza4Araujo15Lenglet2Dest5Busquets21de Jong18Alba10Messi16González11Dembélé1ter Stegen28Mingueza4AraujoBooked at 26minsSubstituted forKourouma Kouroumaat 72'minutes15Lenglet2DestSubstituted forGriezmannat 45'minutes5BusquetsSubstituted forRobertoat 64'minutes21de Jong18AlbaBooked at 84mins10Messi16GonzálezBooked at 23minsSubstituted forMachado Trincãoat 81'minutes11DembéléSubstituted forBraithwaiteat 81'minutes


3Piqué7Griezmann8Pjanic9Braithwaite12Puig17Machado Trincão20Roberto23Umtiti24Firpo26Peña27Kourouma Kourouma36TenasReferee:Jesús Gil Manzano

Match Stats

Home TeamReal MadridAway TeamBarcelonaPossessionHome31%Away69%ShotsHome14Away18Shots on TargetHome3Away4CornersHome5Away6FoulsHome16Away10

Live Text

    Post update

    Match ends, Real Madrid 2, Barcelona 1.



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