Karim Benzema, Federico Valverde and Rodrygo were all on target as a dominant Real Madrid beat old rival Barcelona 3-1 at home in ‘El Clasico’ on Sunday to move top of LaLiga.
The defeat was another blow to Barca and manager Xavi Hernandez after they were left on the verge of Champions League elimination following a draw with Inter Milan in midweek.
Barca had no answer to Vinicius Jr’s relentless pace and Toni Kroos’s precise passes for Real and both were the architects of several chances, including the first two goals.
The pair combined with nice one-touch passes in the build-up to Benzema’s opener with the France striker finishing into the empty goal on the rebound, after goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen denied Vinicius from close range in the 12th minute.
Ten minutes before the break, Vinicius took advantage of a mistake by defender Eric Garcia to run towards the area and create space for Valverde who, unmarked on the edge of the box, slotted a bullet strike past the goalkeeper.
Real was barely threatened by its lifeless opponents until the final minutes when substitute Ferran Torres reduced the deficit with a close-range strike from Robert Lewandowski’s low cross.
However, Rodrygo secured the points from the penalty spot in added time, after he was tripped inside the area by Garcia.
Real is now on top of the standings on 25 points, three ahead of Barca.
“We knew there would come a time in the game where we had to suffer because they move the ball well, and that’s when each of us had to give more, defend well, and we did it,” Madrid midfielder Luka Modric told the media after the match.
“In attack we were convincing, we scored three goals and I’m very happy for our performance, I think we had a great game.”
“We are very disappointed,” said Barca defender Kounde. “I don’t think we had a bad game but in the first-half we failed where they are strong, on transitions.
“I think that for the first goal we should have committed a foul to stop the counter-attack, and the second is quite similar. That’s the strength of (their) team. Sometimes they don’t have the ball, are suffering and then they score two goals,” Kounde added.