Real Madrid moved top of La Liga with a 2-1 victory over eternal rivals Barcelona in a thrilling Clasico at a rain-soaked Estadio Alfredo di Stefano.
Karim Benzema’s audacious near-post flick and Toni Kroos’ deflected free-kick left Real in control at the break, and Zinedine Zidane’s side should have had more to show for their superiority on the counter, with Federico Valverde rattling the post.
Lionel Messi was denied by the post at the end of the first half but, in monsoon-like conditions, Barca halved the deficit when Oscar Mingueza converted Jordi Alba’s cross after Antoine Griezmann’s clever dummy.
Madrid lost Casemiro to two yellow cards in the space of a minute as Barcelona piled on the pressure in search of a late equaliser but their comeback fell agonisingly short, with substitute Ilaix Moriba’s thunderous effort cannoning off the bar in the final minute of stoppage time.
The defeat brings Barcelona’s 19-game unbeaten run to an end and hands the initiative in the La Liga title race to champions Real Madrid, who are level on points with Atletico Madrid but replace them at the summit by virtue of their superior head-to-head record.
More to follow.
Real now go to Anfield to face Liverpool in their Champions League quarter-final second leg on Wednesday at 8pm, leading 3-1 from the first leg, before going to Getafe in la Liga on Sunday at 8pm.
Barcelona face Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday at 8.30pm.