Ronaldo and co thrill against Barcelona in El Clasico
Luis Suarez’s return to competitive football was spoiled by a vintage performance from Cristiano Ronaldo, who inspired Real Madrid to a 3-1 victory over Barcelona.
Despite this, the away side took the lead in the second minute; actually a bright start from the Uruguayan, whose cross-field switch found Brazil star Neymar on the left side of the area. The 22-year-old was then allowed to cut inside onto his right foot, drilling low and hard into the bottom corner past Iker Casillas.
Real, 10/3 to win the Champions League this term, responded strongly. As James Rodriguez pulled back from the by-line, Gerard Pique saw fit to leave a trailing hand, as he slid in to try and block the ball, leaving the referee no option but to award a penalty.
Ronaldo coolly finished from the spot, scoring his 21st goal of the season, and we’re only in October. The home side attempted to seize the initiative, though the pendulum swung from right to left time and again.
Right back Dani Carvajal was arguably the man of the first half for Los Blancos, making vital blocks, and didn’t give Neymar room to breathe following his opener. Lionel Messi found it hard to create space, and it seems Real boss Carlo Ancelotti got his tactics right, defending as a unit, and utilising Luka Modric and Toni Kroos as an effective, energetic screen in front of their back four.
Not long after the break, Madrid completed the turnaround, with Portugal centre back Pepe losing his marker in the area to head past a helpless Claudio Bravo in goal. Real then seemed content to sit back and play on the counter-attack, and were ruthlessly efficient.
As evidenced in the third goal – swift break executed to perfection – Real won the ball in their own half, Barca yet again failing to break them down, and off set Isco. There was movement ahead of him, as Ronaldo drifted into space to receive and combined with Rodriguez, who slipped in Benzema to tuck into the far corner.
It was a move as smooth flowing as some of the region’s best rioja, and encapsulating the story of the game Real got better with age.