Liga - Clasico win takes Madrid seven clear

Sat, 21 Apr 20:57:00 2012

Real Madrid opened up a surely insurmountable seven-point lead at the top of La Liga following a 2-1 victory at the home of reigning champions Barcelona in Saturday's Clasico.

Ronaldo celebration Madrid - 0

Jose Mourinho's men brought Barca's 11-game winning streak in La Liga to a shuddering halt and effectively clinched the title with four games remaining when silencing Camp Nou with a fine performance against a disappointing Barca side.

Sami Khedira put Madrid in front after 17 minutes when turning the ball home from close range following a corner and although Alexis Sanchez equalised just seconds after his arrival as a substitute, Madrid responded quickly through a 42nd league goal of the season for Cristiano Ronaldo after 73 minutes.

Madrid enjoyed only their second win in 11 games against Barcelona under Mourinho, in the process finally overcoming the inferiority complex that has dogged them in encounters against their fierce rivals and surely ensuring they will end the season by taking the Liga title away from the Catalans.

Despite some painful memories of the same fixture last season, Mourinho fielded the identical front six that were subjected to a savage 5-0 defeat in November 2010 with Xabi Alonso and Khedira forming a two-man screen to combat Barcelona's attack. However, the contrast in performance could hardly have been more marked.

Meanwhile Barca, who fell to a 1-0 defeat at Chelsea in the Champions League in midweek while Madrid succumbed to a 2-1 defeat at Bayern Munich, made two changes with Thiago and Cristian Tello, who looked a touch lost when making only his fourth senior start, coming in for Cesc Fabregas and Sanchez.

The home side, aiming to extend their unbeaten run against Madrid to a record eight games, opted for a three-man defence but could not find room for Gerard Pique who had to be content with a place on the bench. Adriano and Javier Mascherano could not offer an adequate aerial presence though and Madrid duly sought to exploit any opportunities from set-pieces in a confident start at Camp Nou.

As early as the fifth minute a corner from Mesut Ozil was met by Ronaldo and though his header took a deflection off the shoulder of Carles Puyol, it still required a save on the stretch from Victor Valdes to turn it over the bar. Pepe then headed over from the subsequent corner as Barca were exposed in the air once again.

Though only a smart save from Iker Casillas prevented Dani Alves from rounding the Spain keeper following a slack pass from Pepe, Barca were struggling to impose their usual fluid style against a robust yet dynamic Madrid side. Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi sought to monopolise possession yet chances only arrived sporadically.

By contrast, Madrid unsettled Barca and on 17 minutes Mourinho's side took the lead from a set-piece. Pepe dwarfed Adriano to meet a corner from the right and Valdes, out of position having initially come off his line for the ball, threw out a hand to stop the header. Puyol was ostensibly on hand to clear yet got the ball caught under his feet, allowing Khedira to stick his leg in and poke it over the line.

The goal was Madrid's 108th in La Liga this season, breaking the record set by John Toshack's side in the 1989-90 campaign, and Madrid were content to reign in their attacking intent as a result, with Barca exercising an even greater grip on possession as they pursued an equaliser.

Though Tello and Thiago, the two La Masia graduates players brought into the side, drilled efforts wide of the post from range, the finest chance of the half fell to Xavi on 27 minutes. Messi embarked on a lovely run before opening up the visiting defence with a superb reverse pass and Xavi spurned the glorious opening when directing his effort just wide of the far post via a faint touch from Casillas.

Having struggled to attain their usual standards, it was something of a surprise to see the same Barca XI emerge for the second half, particularly with Pedro and Sanchez looking ripe to replace Tello.

The young forward, making his first start in La Liga, continued to frustrate in the early stages of the second half. After lashing one shot off target following a sumptuous pass from Iniesta, he then wasted a even better ball from Thiago, who carved open the Madrid defence to find his team-mate. Tello was in a fine position to convert but got his foot under the ball and lifted it high over the bar.

Barca were readying Sanchez on the touchline and Tello appeared vulnerable, yet it was Xavi who was removed just seconds after he drove a fearsome shot narrowly wide of the post following a neat square pass from Thiago.

The change brought immediate reward as Sanchez scored within a minute of his introduction. Iniesta released Tello with a glorious flick on the edge of the box but after Casillas repelled his low effort and Adriano then saw his follow-up deflected into the path of Sanchez, the forward somehow bundled the ball home at the second attempt for the scrappiest of equalisers.

Momentum appeared to be with the reigning champions yet Madrid responded within three minutes with the kind of devastating counter-attack that has been their forte under Mourinho. The ball was worked to Ozil on the right flank and he played in Ronaldo with a brilliantly-weighted pass that allowed the forward to take a touch and draw Valdes before finishing past the Barca keeper in style.

Madrid closed out the game in accomplished fashion, ending Barca's 54-game unbeaten home record in all competitions and all but ensuring that the title will be returning to the capital for the first time since 2008.

Real Madrid opened up a seven-point lead at the top of La Liga following a 2-1 victory at the home of reigning champions Barcelona. - 2

Tom Adams - @tomEurosport / Eurosport

Comment 321 - 341 of 341

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  1. you have to wonder will it be these two giants in the­ fnal for the european up, because if it is what a feast­ of football it will be, but barca have got to get past­ chelsea yet and although i backed them to beat chealse­ at stamford bridge i was very disappointed with the­ goals they missed

    From syd, on Mon 23 Apr 13:30
  2. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    Most of this thugs rmadird fans i know for surely their­ are manure fans still their pains of rome and wembly

    From Almasi Fact, on Mon 23 Apr 0:10
  3. please people listen our manager pep guardiola did it­ on­ purpose to use different tactic and he knew our­ players­ their will find a little bit difficult and you­ people­ you will notice the result against chelsea what­ we­ going to do them on tuesday and if thugs rmadrid­ get­ through CL FINAL you will see will beat them and­ dominate the­ game big time pep guardiola is NOT stupid­ hes done his homeWORK­ for mourinho you will SEE­ different MATCH giant barcelona in­ munich and for­ surely giant barcelona going to win­ champions league­ innner style.

    From Almasi Fact, on Mon 23 Apr 0:07
  4. where was Messi yesterday? haha, now Chelsea is your­ turn to win the eliminatory, Hala Madrid!

    From Roger, on Sun 22 Apr 22:29
  5. I have always believed and trusted Mourinho. As I said­ sometime ago, Barca can hardly win Real when they both­ have 11 players on the pitch and the ref is just. It­ was one of my greatest night and to crown it all evn­ though Messi should had a yellow card and Alves a red­ card, am happy Cr7 did the last nail. La liga is done,­ we look forward for the champions league. One more­ season pls the Special one.

    From martin, on Sun 22 Apr 21:53
  6. This is believable. I trust Mourinho and Real madrid.­ They'v done it. Mourinho be cautious because of the­ referees, let your players fire all their remaining­ cylinders. What a great news. Forget ball possession,­ all I want is to win. Which Real Madrid did.

    From Matins, on Sun 22 Apr 20:14
  7. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    Don't worry Barca, you'll get back to winning­ ways on Tuesday.

    From Diogenes, on Sun 22 Apr 19:53
  8. Goodbye barca.....your paying off referee days are gone

    From Mark Kavanagh, on Sun 22 Apr 17:06
  9. Barca are dead ducks!!!!!!!!

    From Mark Kavanagh, on Sun 22 Apr 16:45
  10. Great result for Real. Had good day today. The 2 teams­ I dislike the most, Barca lost and ManUre drew­ he!he!he! Real wins La Liga and City wins BPL. Fabregas­ u got nothing! I hope Chelsea will beat Barca in the­ return leg. Now the teams are getting wise in playing­ Barca. It is good for football.

    From chew, on Sun 22 Apr 15:32
  11. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    I think the ref was a cheat. We need a 2nd TV ref to­ appeal to (2 appeals allowed each side, top up if­ successful)

    From Prakash, on Sun 22 Apr 15:19
  12. This is the worst possible result for Chelski as Barca­ are going to be like a wounded bear !!

    From TartanForever, on Sun 22 Apr 14:34
  13. Man up and admit you were wrong and congratulate your­ rivals. There are so many false facts and logical­ fallacies in your posts that there is no point trying­ to disentangle them. But please show some class and­ congratulate Madrid like Pep and Iniesta did? Give some­ credit where it's due.

    From Jón, on Sun 22 Apr 13:50
  14. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    You can tell how great Barcelona team is, that is­ creating a lot of jealous fans. Just look at all these­ glory hunters pretending to be madrid fans when the­ truth is 90% of you losers are english sausages fans­ that hate Barca because Barca has destroyed their­ pathetic english teams. Just take a brake losers.­ Madrid has only won 1 match this season out of 6­ matches, losing 3 drawing 2. You don't become the­ best if you win 1 match out of 6 in a year or 2 matches­ in 15 classicos. You don't become the best when you­ win only one spanish cup in 4 years. Madrid can have la­ liga thanks to the refs giving imaginary penalties,­ offside goals like the one kedhira scored against­ Barca, and allowing madrid players to use their hands­ to save goals, and Barca suffering with a lot of­ injuries. It does not make gaynaldo the best just­ because he scored one goal was quiet the rest of the­ match. It does not make gaynaldo the best just because­ he scored a goal and flopped against 100s of other­ tough matches that he played. If he is the best, he­ should do good against tough team constant like Messi­ does. Just remember this if Barca wins spanish cup and­ Champions League that will mean 5 trophies for Barca­ this season, a whole lot better than madrid. You better­ hope madrid loses to Bayern because if they meet Barca­ in the CL finals they will get trashed. You know what­ Barca and Pep do to a team who beats them, they go and­ beat them back 5 or 6 times. Remember last season when­ madrid beat Barca in the spanish cup finals with same­ cheating ref that played last night, Barca wen back and­ beat them in the CL, Spanish Super Cup, Liga and­ Spanish Cup. So better hope madrid does not meet Barca­ in the CL finals this season because Barca will trash­ them. By then our injured players will be fit, like­ Villa, Pique, Affelay, and hopefully Abidal which I­ have doubts. Now what do you expect from a team that­ spends over half a billion euros, they have to win once­ in a while.

    From Barcelona Dream Team #2, on Sun 22 Apr 13:34
  15. its not that madrid are improving its more that barca­ are slipping a bit.

    From Gregor, on Sun 22 Apr 13:01
  16. On next Tuesday, we (Chelsea) will finish these jokers­ off!! Then its the final,hopefully against the­ "Special One" and we can beat him too!!!!

    From jimbog, on Sun 22 Apr 12:15
  17. wheres mr barcelona dream team no 2 ,nobh,e,a,d

    From mountain-bike-rider, on Sun 22 Apr 11:52
  18. To be honest the past 3 classicos Madrid should've­ and could've easily won. They played great against­ them earlier in the league and in the two copa del rey­ games. Also the supercoppa was very tight too. so far­ barca this season they played 6 barca won 2 drawn 3­ lost 1

    From Benny, on Sun 22 Apr 11:44
  19. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    Barca will come back stronger, its inevitable

    From Daniel, on Sun 22 Apr 11:36
  20. Football fans are like sheep,feed them regularly and it­ is easy to herd them.They all follow the leader baa baa­ baa.Pay your season ticket and buy the merchandise- my­ Bentley needs petrol !!!!!

    From P, on Sun 22 Apr 11:06
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