Real Madrid returned to the top of La Liga as goals from Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz gave them a 2-0 win over Barcelona in El Clasico.
Zinedine Zidane’s side came into the clash in poor form having suffered won just one of their last five games in all competitions, but were able to stop the rot with a crucial victory over their fiercest rivals at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Barca had the better of the first half opportunities with Antoine Griezmann, Arthur and Lionel Messi all presented with golden opportunities to find the back of the net. Real Madrid emerged for the start of the second half with renewed vigour, though, and soon took control.
The turning point came after 71 minutes when Vinicius beat Marc-Andre Ter Stegen with a low strike that picked up a deflection off Gerard Pique and squeezed in at the near post. And the result was confirmed in stoppage time when Mariano, just off the bench, raced away to score a second, knocking Barcelona off top spot in La Liga and putting Real Madrid one point clear.
'I have a wonderful team' - Zidane lauds Real after Clasico win
TALKING POINT - This was an illustration of where these two rivals are right now
For all the intensity, this was a match that for the most part tackled quality, especially in the attacking third. However, this provided the perfect illustration of where these two rivals are at this moment in time. While this fixture was once a depiction of strength, a clash between Europe’s two best teams, it is now about who can mask their obvious flaws and insecurities best. In this instance, it was Real Madrid who managed to do that.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)
There’s no denying Vinicius is a frustrating figure to watch. The Brazilian found himself in a number of dangerous positions throughout the match, largely lacking a final product to make the most of that. But it was Vinicius who provided the electricity Real Madrid needed to claim a crucial three points, with his goal clinching the three points. This performance showed the good and bad of Vinicius, but underlined why Zidane must persevere with the teenager.
Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Liga match between Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on March 01, 2020 in Madrid, Spain.
Image credit: Getty Images
Real Madrid - Courtois 7, Carvajal 8, Ramos 6, Varane 7, Marcelo 7, Casemiro 7, Valverde 7, Kroos 6, Isco 6, Vinicius 8, Benzema 6. Subs - Modric 6, Vazquez 4, Mariano 6.
Barcelona - Ter Stegen 7, Semedo 7, Pique 5, Umtiti 5, Alba 5, Busquets 7, Arthur 6, De Jong 6, Vidal 4, Messi 5, Griezmann 6. Subs - Braithwaite 7, Ansu 5, Rakitic 4.
24’ Griezmann should have scored! That's the closest we have come to an opening goal! Barca came flying forward on the counter, Alba surged down the left and squared for Griezmann, but the French forward scooped over from around the penalty spot.
35’ Arthur was one-on-one! Another golden opportunity for Barcelona to take the lead with Arthur released in behind the Real Madrid defence! Courtois came off his line to make the save from the Brazilian! Excellent goalkeeping, but what a chance!
39’ Courtois stops Messi! Busquets played a wonderful pass over the top for Messi, the Barcelona number 10 controlled it on his chest, but Varane did just enough to put him off and Courtois makes the save! Big opportunity!
57’ What a save from Ter Stegen! That was heading right for the top corner of the Barcelona net! Real Madrid played a short corner and Isco curled an effort towards goal from 20 yards out, but Ter Stegen tips it wide! Unbelievable!
62’ Off the line! Pique makes the clearance from underneath his own crossbar! Isco's header beat Ter Stegen, but the Barcelona centre back was on the line and stopped the Real Madrid goal! Quite literally an inch or two away from the opening goal!
65’ BENZEMA... over the bar! For the first time all night Barcelona are on the ropes! Carvajal plays a clipped pass through for Benzema who had peeled away from his marker, but he puts his volley over the bar! Barca are on the ropes.
70’ Almost an immediate impact! Braithwaite very nearly finds the back of the net with his first touch! He was released in behind the Real Madrid defence, he chipped a shot over Courtois, but Varane was back on the line to make the clearance!
71’ GOAL! Real Madrid 1-0 Barcelona: At long last the deadlock has been broken and it's Vinicius! Kroos played the pass in behind for the Brazilian winger and his shot deflected off Pique, wrong-footed Ter Stegen and found the back of the Barcelona net at the near post!
92’ GOAL! Real Madrid 2-0 Barcelona: What an impact! Mariano has only been on the pitch for a matter of seconds and he has found the back of the net! The striker who has barely featured for Real Madrid this season drives into the box and beats Ter Stegen at his near post to secure the win.
- Real Madrid have won a LaLiga game against Barcelona for the first time since April 2016 at Camp Nou (2-1), also under Zinédine Zidane, and a LaLiga home game for the first time since October 2014 (3-1), under Carlo Ancelotti.
- Barcelona have not scored in back-to-back games against Real Madrid in all competitions since May 1975 (three).
- Barcelona have conceded just two goals in each of their last five away matches in LaLiga, something they had only happened once in this competition (five games between January and March 1955).
- Real Madrid’s Vinícius Júnior (19 years and 233 days) has become the youngest player to score in El Clasico in LaLiga in this 21st century, surpassing Leo Messi (19y 259d).
- Vinícius Júnior has been directly involved in six goals in his last 11 starts for Real Madrid in all competitions (four goals and three assists).
- Real Madrid Mariano Díaz is the substitute player in scoring a faster goal in the Clasico in LaLiga in the 21st century (50 seconds).
- Karim Benzema has made his 500th appearance for Real Madrid in all competitions, becoming the third Non-Spanish player to reach this milestone for the club after Roberto Carlos (527) and Marcelo Vieira (504).
- Karim Benzema has only scored one goal in his last ten LaLiga appearances. This after scoring 12 in his first 15 of the season.
- Leo Messi has become FC Barcelona´s player with most appearances in El Clásico history in all competitions (43) after surpassed Xavi Hernández (42).
- Leo Messi has not scored or assisted in any of his last five appearances against Real Madrid in all competitions, his worst historic run in the Clásico.