Cristiano Ronaldo struck a late winner as 10-man Real Madrid came from behind to end Barcelona’s 39-game unbeaten run with a 2-1 El Clasico victory at the Camp Nou on Saturday.
Gerard Pique benefited from Ivan Rakitic’s ball to put Barcelona ahead 11 minutes after the break but their lead lasted for just six minutes following Karim Benzema’s equalizer. Ronaldo’s strike inside the final five minutes settled scores in favor of the visitors to revenge a first leg 4-0 defeat.
Barcelona came closest through Luis Suarez’s misjudgement from a cross, but neither the Catalans nor Real Madrid did enough to to deserve a lead half-time as both sides headed for the dugout with a 0-0 score line.
The home side were at full strength as Rafinha featured in a matchday squad for the first time since last September, while Madrid stuck with Casemiro who was not used in the reverse fixture last November where Real lost 4-0 at home.
Despite Barcelona 10 point gap, club legend Johan Cruyff’s demise made for one of their most charged encounters in recent times as all eight living Blaugrana Presidents were present in Camp Nou’s presidential box, before applause was heard on the 14th minute, Cruyff’s jersey number during his time at Barcelona in his playing days.
The first half saw the Catalans enjoy more possession and the visitors retreated further as the game wore thin. Suarez came close to an opener when he shook off Sergio Ramos from a ball over the top. Neymar was onside when the No 9 played the ball into him, but the Brazilian’s cross went through his legs, despite having the goal at his mercy.
Dani Carvajal then risked a red card as a strong tackle on Andres Iniesta was followed by a kick into the back of Suarez’s legs as the Uruguayan geared up to turn his marker on the edge of the box. Ramos could’ve left Madrid with two men down as his outstretched leg on Lionel Messi in Los Blancos’ defense went unpunished.
Barcelona started on the front foot again after the break and Navas made a brilliant save to prevent Messi’s cheeky chipped effort floating in at the far post. Pique rose highest to power home Rakitic’s corner on 56 minutes.
The lead lasted just six minutes, though, as Benzema swivelled by blast home Toni Kroos’s deflected cross into the bottom corner. Bale had the chance to turn the game on its head, but his tame effort on his favoured left foot was easily held by Bravo as Madrid again threatened on the counter-attack.
Ronaldo then fired against the bar and Bravo saved a one-on-one with Bale as Madrid’s pace on the break began to tear a tired-looking Barca apart.
Real Madrid’s hopes of a famous win looked to have gone when Ramos was given his marching orders for a second booking bringing down Luis Suarez seven minutes from time. Yet, just two minutes later Ronaldo struck the winner as he controlled Bale’s cross to the far post before slotting under Brav