Karim Benzema scored an elegant flicked goal to lead ten-man Real Madrid to a 2-1 win over Barcelona in the Spanish La Liga encounter at the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium on Saturday night.
The champions put in a masterclass counter attacking performance and Toni Kroos’ deflected free kick sealed a third straight El Clasico victory to overcome Barcelona.
Zinedine Zidane made only one change to the team that defeated Liverpool in midweek, with Federico Valverde replacing Marco Asensio. Ronald Koeman, on the other hand, left Antoine Griezmann on the bench.
Real Madrid did not have a sniff until the 14th minute when they converted their first attack with devastating acuracy. Valverde bust into midfield, evaded the challenge from Alba, played Lucas Vazquez into acres of space on the right and the winger cut the ball back for Benzema to finish off with a cheeky flicked shot into the near post.
Despite going behind, Barcelona were playing better but missing the final ball, and their hosts doubled the lead on 28 minutes to further punish the Catalans.
Vinicius Jr’s electrifying pace won Real Madrid a free kick on the edge of the box and Toni Kroos’ delivery took a deflection off Serginho Dest into the net for 2-0.
Zidane’s side continued to find spaces on the counter and while Vinicius was denied a penalty, Valverde hit the post and Vazquez’s follow-up was saved by ter Stegen.
The Catalans would half the deficit on the hour mark as a poor clearance was seized upon by Alba and his cross was slotted home by Oscar Mingueza.
Real continued to counter and should have scored with several good openings in quick succession but Benzema, Vinicius Jr, Ansensio and Marcelo all wasted the opportunities.
Barcelona thought they should have a penalty in the 80th minute when Mendy seemed to grab Martin Braithwaite but the referee and VAR ruled otherwise to the amazement of the visitors.
Casemiro, Real’s dependable midfield enforcer, got his first booking after a foul on Messi. He was however uncharacteristically sent off for a second bookable offence on 90 minutes for another foul on Braithwaite.
Real Madrid have amassed 66 points and are top of the league for at least 24 hours when Atletico Madrid, their local rivals whom they lead on head-to-head, play Real Betis.