For the first time since 1965, Real Madrid claims a comeback victory against eternal rivals Barcelona in Nou Camp thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s late winner.
But for a game between two teams that share a rivalry so bitter, there was little attempt to settle scores or show pride – it was not a classic clásico.
Even with Luis Enrique’s Barca playing quick in attack and Zinedine Zidane’s Madrid occasionally showed their worth, a game that also honours Johan Cruyff deserved more. Their attacking trio who scored 103 times between them even looked, at the best of times, ineffectual.
In the beginning of what the end of Barcelona’s 39-match unbeaten run, Gerard Pique broke the deadlock, sprinting past Pepe for a firm header past Kevlor Navas.
However, if anything, that goal had emboldened Madrid. Mrcelo led the charge, sprinting up the left and travelling across the edge of the area, to find Toni Kroos, whose blocked shot looped up near the six yard box where Karim Benzema leapt and, falling backwards, volleyed an acrobatic equaliser.
Then, with just 10 minutes up to go, Gareth Bale leapt to a Ronaldo cross and headed into the Catalonians’ net. He raced into the corner, celebrating, only to find the referee, Alejandro Hernández Hernández, standing with his arm up, disallowing the goal.
5 minutes later, Bale was the one who crossed to the far post, and Ronaldo made the finish superbly past Pique and Dani Alves.
The win was fitting retaliation for Real Madrid, whom Barcelona had humbled by a dazzling 4-0 early this season in La Liga. Furthermore, the winning goal only came after Madrid had captain Sergio Ramos sent off for two yellow cards, each for fouling Luis Suarez twice.
But he easily could have been removed earlier, as fouls on Messi, Suarez and Dani Alves all puzzlingly escaped the referee. The 30-year old even reacted to the sent-off in stunning fashion, joking that he would have got himself extracted earlier if he knew that his team would win.
Speaking after the match, Ramos told reporters: “We did plenty of damage on the break, with one player less. If I had realised what would happen with one player less, that we’d have won with the sending off, I’d have got myself sent off in the fifth minute.”
He added on the importance of the win for his team.
“You must always keep your feet on the ground. Our fans deserved this after so much suffering. It was important to arrive here at our best level. This is a way to recover our confidence, a prize. We are working very hard to do something important this season. We are on the right line.”