La Liga is suddenly harder again, as Barcelona lost for the first time in 20 matches in the top flight. A second Clasico defeat of the season.
They nearly didn’t, with Ilaix Moriba hitting the crossbar late on. Lionel Messi had already hit the post from a corner. Ferland Mendy got away with two fouls in the area, on Ousmane Dembele and Martin Braithwaite.
Starting at the beginning, Real Madrid were value for their two goals. Los Blancos cut Barcelona open with Fede Valverde, Lucas Vazquez and finally Karim Benzema forcing the first goal.
It was a superb finish from the Frenchman, a backheel past Ter Stegen at the near post.
The second came before half an hour, with Toni Kroos’s free kick deflecting in off Sergino Dest. The Barcelona defender turned his back, a mistake.
Lionel Messi, without a Clasico goal since 2018, might have scored before half time. First with a corner kick which hit the post directly, second with an effort kept out by Thibaut Courtois.
Valverde struck the woodwork too for Real Madrid, who threatened to cut Barcelona up.
However the rain came in the second half, and with it, an improved Barca display. They pulled one back when substitute Antoine Griezmann dummied Jordi Alba’s cutback and Oscar Mingueza stubbed the ball home.
There were chances at both ends before Ilaix late on crashed an effort off the woodwork, deep in stoppage time.
Real Madrid are top on head to head, on 66 points with Atletico. Barcelona third on 65. It’s not over, but it is considerably tougher.
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