A winner from Cristiano Ronaldo was able to silence the Camp Nou faithful as Real Madrid powered in a 2-1 win in Barcelona for the first time since April 2012 in the biggest match in the world: El Clasico.
Stalled Camp Nou
In the first half, Barcelona got the majority of the chances and held possesion in the final third of the pitch as Real Madrid looked like a team incapable of holding onto the ball or launching any meaningful attacks through the 45 minutes.
In the 8th minute, a pass from the left by Sergio Busquets was initially directed to Luis Suarez, but Keylor Navas was able to pounce up as he swatted the ball away in time. Less than an minute later, Neymar played the ball on the right with the intention to give it to Suarez, but he was unable to make a good finish as he missed the ball by mere inches.
Real Madrid had their first attempt in the 15th minute when a ball was played to Gareth Bale on the right side of the pitch. He used his speed to beat Jordi Alba, but could not escape Gerard Pique as the Spanish center back was able to take the ball out of the box.
The opportunities continued as Lionel Messi was awarded a free kick on the left, but his effort was poor and it went up and over Keylor Navas’ goal in the 18th minute. Over on the other end of the pitch in the 30th minute, Cristiano Ronaldo also got awarded a free kick but his ball just goes up and over Claudio Bravo’s goal. One more big chance came from each side before halftime.
In the 42nd minute, Neymar played the ball to Dani Alves on the far right side of the pitch. Then, Alves attempted a volley that went wide of the Costa Rican goalkeeper. A minute later, a ball played to Karim Benzema from the left, but his volley skyrocketed into the crowd as both sides ended up goalless in the first 45.
More attacking opportunities
There were more attacking chances in the second. In the 54th minute, a ball was passed from Suarez to Messi, and as the Argentine went for an attempt on goal, the Costa Rican made a magisterial flying save to deny the Argentine his 500th career goal. Finally, Barcelona took the lead just two minutes later from Pique. Off a corner, the tall defender went in for the ball and hit a powerful header, getting it past Navas.
Nevertheless, Los Merengues continued to attack and in the 62nd minute, found an equalizer. Following a ball from Marcelo and a deflected cross from Toni Kroos, Benezma was able to score from his first touch with a sensational strike past Bravo to level it all up. In the 81st minute, a goal was controversially disallowed on Bale after Ronaldo whipped in a cross in towards the far post which found the head of the Welshman and powered it home but as he celebrates the flag went up for what seems a push and foul on Jordi Alba.
With five minutes left in the match, Bale found Ronaldo open inside the penalty box. The Portuguese international was controlled the ball with his chest and found the back of the net with a lovely strike for the game winner.
With that win, Barcelona's record unbeat streak is over after 15 home matches and 39 consecutive matches unbeaten was snapped Zinedine Zidane's Madrid. The Frenchman became the first manager to win an El Clasico on his debut and at the Camp Nou since Bernd Schuster in 2007. With that win, the gap is still a bit significant but it is shrinking. Barcelona still hold first with 76 points, followed by Atletico Madrid with 70 and Real Madrid with 69.
Barcelona's next match will be hosting the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Real Madrid travel to Germany to face Wolfsburg in their first leg in the respective competition. They both play Deportivo de la Coruña and Eibar respectively in the league next week,