Barça win the Clasico; both teams are co-leaders, but Mourinho's side has played one less game and has a chance to be sole leader by winning or drawing against Sevilla next week.
Fernando Porrero / Translation by Michael J. O'Donnell
It is said small details decide the outcome of Clasicos and tonight was a clear example of that. Three instances could tip the scales one way or the other. The first was Benzema's goal only 23 seconds into the game, capitalasing from a mistake by Valdes. The second was Barcelona's second strike, which came from a shot from outside the box that went into the back of the net after being accidentally deflected by Marcelo and the far post. The third instance was Cristiano Ronaldo's missed header that could have drawn the match 2-2. This was followed by the effort that resulted in Barcelona's third goal. That was the Clasico in a nutshell. The visiting side made better use of three defining instances, but the Whites nevertheless continue to depend on themselves and could be sole leaders on the table by defeating or drawing against Sevilla next week.
Following last week's suspension, Xabi Alonso made the starting lineup and Coentrao was positioned as right back. Lass made the midfield, leaving Khedira on the bench. The game couldn't have had a more auspicious start for the locals, with Benzema scoring only 23 seconds into the game by capitalising on a mistake by Valdes, who gave the ball to Di Maria in a bad clearance. The Argentine then passed it to Ozil, who shot on target, but ended up hitting Busquets instead. The deflection was then taken up by Benzema, who scored the fastest goal in the history of the Clasico. Real started to dominate the match due to this being a harsh blow on Guardiola's side, but Barça gradually started to have more possession and scored the equaliser from a fast effort finished off by Alexis (29'). The game evened out until half-time.
The second half started with a key effort: Xavi hit the ball outside the box and the shot, which didn't seem dangerous at first, hit Marcelo and a post before entering the goal (52'). Real Madrid were forced to make a comeback and focused on attacking, leaving their goal wide open. This gave way to Barcelona counterattacks. Mourinho then made Khedira and Kaka come on for Lass and Ozil.
Cristiano Ronaldo came close to netting the equaliser from a missed header on the 64-minute mark. Football then showed its cruelest face to Real by rewarding Barcelona with another strike when Fabregas headed in an Alves cross. The fans continued to support the team to the death despite the goal and showed how very proud they are of Mourinho's side.
Kaka came close to cutting distances short in the 83rd minute, but Valdes cleared his shot with a great save. Madrid kept trying to score any way they could, but Barcelona snatched the victory in the end. The Whites will now focus on Tuesday's Copa del Rey match against Ponferradina.