Barca beat Real

2013-10-26 23:02

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In clash of the new marquee signings, Neymar shines and Bale is left baleful

Neymar stole the show from Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale when his first-half strike set Barcelona on their way to a 2-1 win over Real Madrid in last night’s La Liga “El Clasico” at the Nou Camp.

In a match watched by hundreds of millions around the world, Barca landed an early blow in the title race thanks to Neymar’s clinical 19th-minute finish and a sublime chip from substitute Alexis Sanchez 11 minutes from time in the 167th league meeting between the world’s two richest clubs by income.

Jesé came off the bench to pull a goal back in the first minute of added time but it was little more than a consolation for Real, who were outplayed for long periods and slip six points behind the champions with 10 matches played.

After a predictably cagey opening with few chances, Neymar opened the scoring when he collected the ball from Andres Iniesta on the left of the penalty area.

Cutting inside on to his right foot, he fired off a low shot that took a slight deflection off Real fullback Dani Carvajal before zipping past goalkeeper Diego López into the far corner of the net.

Real battled hard in the second half and Karim Benzema, who replaced Real’s ineffective world-record signing Bale on the hour, smashed a shot against the bar before Alexis scored with an exquisite chip over Lopez from just outside the area.

Unbeaten Barca’s victory, their ninth in the league this season, puts them on 28 points, ahead of third-placed Real at the top of the standings.

Second-placed Atletico Madrid are four points behind Barca before their game at home to Real Betis on Sunday.

Real coach Carlo Ancelotti opted for a starting formation that looked to be designed specifically to thwart Argentinian World Player of the Year Messi, with captain Sergio Ramos, who normally plays at centre back, operating just in front of central defenders Pepe and Raphael Varane.

Up front, Bale started in the middle, with Ronaldo on the left and Angel Di Maria on the right.

Ancelotti’s Barca counterpart Gerardo Martino deployed Neymar on the left wing and Cesc Fabregas in a forward roving role with Messi in his customary deep-lying position through the middle.

As they belted out the team’s anthem before kick-off, the Barca fans transformed the giant arena into a huge mosaic in the club’s colours with a message of support – Forca Tito! – for their ailing former coach Tito Vilanova, who is battling cancer.

On the pitch, Barca should have been 2-0 ahead two minutes after Neymar’s opener when Iniesta sent Messi clear, but he placed his shot wide of the post when one-on-one with Lopez.

The Real players were furious with the referee shortly before the break when he waved away their appeals for a penalty after the ball appeared to brush Adriano’s arm in the area.

Real looked more dangerous in the second half and Ronaldo drew a fine save from Victor Valdes with a fierce strike in the 58th minute before they had another penalty appeal rejected when there was contact between the Portuguese winger and Javier Mascherano in the Barca area.

Jesé’s goal came too late for Real to stage a comeback and Ancelotti and his team must now regroup before Wednesday’s game at home to Sevilla.

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